It’s nice to live in a society that recognises the necessity for female entrepreneurs and women in business. One that celebrates their success and achievements across a variety of fields, on an international stage. Only over the last sixty years is when we’ve seen revolutionary changes that began to shape the status of women in business.
Women entered the workforce in large numbers during WWII. Several hundred thousand women, across the globe, took administrative positions, became nurses, truck drivers, mechanics, electricians and auxiliary pilots. It was the first time that women were granted some measure of freedom to pursue a career, outside of the home. The fire for equality had been lit and post war, women began to assume managerial positions in corporations that operated around the world.
Female entrepreneurship was invigorated by the feminist movement and national legislation that encouraged equal opportunity in the 1970s. A TIME Magazine article from August 1970, entitled ‘Who’s Come a Long Way Baby?’ expressed shock at the demand for equality within the work place, particularly the fight for equal pay.
By the late 1980s, women increased their share of managerial positions and professional speciality occupations from seven percent to forty seven percent.
As a female entrepreneur, I think it is essential that we remember the trail blazers that paved the way for us to become the greatest versions of ourselves, such as Gloria Steinem, Susan Brownmiller and Kate Millett. It is also important for us to support and celebrate the accomplishments of today’s inspirational women in business and beyond.
I recently came across an article from Porter magazine, the Winter edition, entitled ‘Incredible Women.’ The piece is a celebration of the women who inspired and empowered the world throughout 2018. It was only in November 2017 that the #MeToo movement erupted beginning with the film, fashion and other alike industries. Porter’s theme for this article was inspired by those amazing women that stood up and spoke out; One Year Stronger.
The article also features ‘Women of Action working to change the status quo,’ with particular attention to women who are advocating for both female and human rights, such as Emma Watson, Frances McDormand and Emma Gonzales. A section of the article is dedicated to the empowered women in sports, who ‘rocked it when it mattered’ this year. If features our very own, Olympic gold medalist, Tessa Virtue, Grand Slam winner, Caroline Wozniacki and Chloe Kim, the youngest woman to ever win an Olympic snowboarding medal! Go Chloe!
The write up also lists the dynamic female game-changers and ground-breakers of 2018, which include; Rachel Morrison, the first woman to be nominated for the cinematography Oscar, Courtney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks and Hu Weiwei, co-founder of Mobike, the world’s first bike-sharing app. I love articles like this one that observe and honor the accomplishments of females in business. What I took from this article was that we should never underestimate the power of women connecting and supporting each other at work and in life.
Even with 950,000 self-employed women in Canada in 2012, accounting for 35.6% of all self-employed persons, being a woman in business, as we know, can still be challenging. For example, dealing with limited access to funding, balancing business and family life and building a support network in the high-level business world, which is still dominated by men are challenges faced by women in business every day.
In last month’s blog post I referenced a seminar I attended at IDS Vancouver, which was hosted by three of North America’s leading female architects, Jing Liu of New York’s SO-IL, Johanna Hurme of Winnipeg’s 5468796 Architecture and Susan Scott of Vancouver’s Scott and Scott Architects. The speakers discussed ways for women to progress their careers within the design industry. I took away a few things from that conference that I would like to share with you now;
Confidence is key. Whatever your industry, confidence will help you earn respect and advance your career. Being unsure of yourself will only allow others to have little faith in your abilities.
I learned that women typically apply for a job or have confidence in themselves when they are 100% qualified for the job whereas men usually a little less ;) So I say. Never downplay your worth.
Exposure. Going to site, into the field or taking a seat at the table, as frequently as you can is vital. You will be exposed to others in the industry (network, network, network!) and it can be the greatest place to learn about your industry.
'Mentorship through osmosis' as Johanna Hurme, from 5468796 cleverly 'coined' the term to describe how employees can learn through observation. All of the speakers believed in an open work environment where employees could frequently interact and engage with more senior members of staff and their daily work habits.
Building a support network that will empower women to achieve their goals in business is also vital for success. It is important to recognise organizations that help achieve this, such as The Women’s University Club of Vancouver. The UWCV promotes education, rights and opportunities for women and brings the arts and culture of Vancouver to Hycroft. It was the second University Women’s Club in Canada and founded on May 11, 1907 by a group of eight young women graduates of universities in Eastern Canada and the U.S.A.
In June 1962 the University Women’s Club of Vancouver acquired Hycroft, a magnificent Edwardian mansion located in Shaughnessy to use as its Clubhouse. At that time women were not permitted to hold a mortgage in their own name, so they were required to pay in full. It took a full year for UWCV to finalize the purchase of Hycroft and five more to restore it. I am looking forward to becoming a member of the UWCV in the near future!
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart—owns their own business knows this. Even with all the modern day advantages female entrepreneurs have today, being a woman in business can be extremely challenging. It is essential to remain confident in yourself and your abilities in the face of pressure and uncertainty. It is also important to raise up others around you, by helping them to craft and develop their own skills. Supporting each other’s success is key to a future in business, dominated by females. It’s time to turn the tables ladies! 👊🏼