The dawn of the millennium, popularised the bourgeoisie word ‘entrepreneur’ replacing the age-old term ‘businessman’, as the entrepreneurial space was turning increasingly gender neutral. Undeniably, entrepreneurship is a demanding role that requires intense assiduity and strength to be able to persevere in spite of gazillion odds. However, being in a world where women are constantly alienated from the patriarchal space of business, it has become imperative for women to break certain myths and gender stereotypes to be able to create an impact on global markets.
- Myth 1: Women can only handle small time (homely) businesses – Contrary to popular beliefs, small-time businesses are no less challenging. Men have been widely considered as achievers, unlike women who are stereotyped as shy, weak and unequipped. However, in the 21st century where opportunity is rampant and gender gaps are bridging fast, these conventional perceptions about women are no less than myths. Men are turning home-makers and women are managing multi-million dollars businesses – across industries that had been earlier deemed as male-centric – shaping their individual skills and inspiring their workforces through innovative leadership practices. Indian women like Meena Bindra (Biba) have exemplified this by giving their hobbies-turned-businesses, a million dollar turning.
- Myth 2: Women need to follow men to be accepted in the business world – An experience often shared by women is the feeling of being out of place in the corporate world, perhaps owing to the fact that the workspace was monopolised by men since the post-colonial times, as research suggests. Wage gaps are another example through which one could infer how exchange value for male jobs till date is higher as compared to women. Nonetheless, today women are breaking their limitations and creating new avenues to achieve their career-oriented dreams while simultaneously juggling domestic responsibilities. Both genders are built differently and none have to act like the other to be accepted. The only requirement for success is a strong understanding of the industry coupled with well-honed professional skills. In this context, women like Coco Chanel (Founder: Chanel), Ruth Handler (Founder: Barbie), Dame Anita Roddick (Founder: The Body Shop) and other women of Indian origin, like Kiran Majumdar Shaw (Biocon Ltd.), Jyoti Naik (Lijjat Papad) have busted this myth.
- Myth 3: Women aren’t headstrong – History led us to believe: ‘Behind every successful man stands a woman’, portraying women as supporters but never as go-getters. Progressive and educated men even today pass sexist comments, on account of the deeply entrenched gender roles that have been solidified through a process of systematic conditioning. Nevertheless, women have exhibited their capabilities time and again by taking decisions independently, even when the world may have thought otherwise. Women, therefore, need to be confident and take failures as life lessons in their journey to success.
- Myth 4: Women can’t manage billion dollar businesses – If a woman can start a business against all odds, why can’t she hold her fort long enough to build it into an empire? The answer to the statement has already been proven by women in history, who have built viral global trends out of their businesses.
It is true that gender roles have bound men as well as women since time immemorial. However, if you think about them hard enough there is no reason to believe in people’s words over your own capabilities. Thus, my only advice to struggling entrepreneurs would be not to let any gendered notion of the world bind you while you set goals and work hard towards achieving them.