1. International Women’s Day 2017: Strive for Equality or Celebrate the Differences?

International Women’s Day 2017: Strive for Equality or Celebrate the Differences?

“Wow! She’s a woman entrepreneur.” The day we stop hearing statements like this, the day we stop feeling surprised, amazed or impressed that a woman has achieved something, that’s the day we would have reached a state of gender equality.

Updated: March 8, 2017 2:50 PM
As women struggle to make their presence felt in the business world, it’s important to remember not to strive for gender equality. We’re NOT equal. We’re different.

“Wow! She’s a woman entrepreneur.” The day we stop hearing statements like this, the day we stop feeling surprised, amazed or impressed that a woman has achieved something, that’s the day we would have reached a state of gender equality. A look at the figures tell us we’re far from this state. Women’s Day 2017 focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work”. The UN figures indicate that merely 50% of working-age women are part of the labour force globally, with most of them being part of the informal economy. A look at Indian entrepreneurs reveals a similar story, with less than 15% businesses in the country being run by women entrepreneurs, according to statistics released by the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).

Break the Stereotypes Before They Break Us

Why are women underrepresented in the circle of entrepreneurs? It’s probably a mindset issue, with preconceived notions about the qualities needed to be an entrepreneur. When we think of entrepreneurs, the words that come to mind are aggressive, cutthroat, strong leader, hard negotiator, high confidence. Many women don’t identify with these qualities. But this picture has been created by what most entrepreneurs may be like, and that’s a picture created by men.

Running your own business is like looking after a baby. It needs nurturing, love and patience. Who could be better at this than women? Women need to realize that they may have different strengths, which may prove to be better than our preconceived notions of a business owner.

While we break the stereotypes about women, we also need to break the stereotypes about entrepreneurship. Here’s what I’d like to tell women who’re aspiring to be entrepreneurs:

We don’t need to be harsh and stern. We’re better at teamwork and getting buy-ins.

Those skills help achieve goals.

It’s okay to feel underconfident at times. That feeling gets us to do more groundwork and prepare ourselves better before important meetings or other events. Bad at hard negotiations? Creative ideas and innovative approaches can take your business further.

Bad at hard negotiations? Creative ideas and innovative approaches can take your business further.

We don’t need to be aggressive or competitive. Passion for what you do and the willpower to continue walking the road will take you further.

Businesses will go through rough patches. When your child is suffering from a high fever, your love, patience and ability to work harder seem to grow exponentially. Those are the strengths needed to manage a business in trouble.

Many women feel overwhelmed dealing with alpha males. They just need the confidence to know that teams are better managed with compassion and flexibility. This is particularly the case for businesses that require creativity.

Multitasking comes naturally to us. We’re able to juggle different roles quite efficiently, which is a great quality for an entrepreneur.

While these qualities or strengths of women are highly generalized, the objective is merely to convey to women that they should draw on their strengths, rather than trying to mold themselves into the standard perception of what entrepreneurs should be like.

As women struggle to make their presence felt in the business world, it’s important to remember not to strive for gender equality. We’re NOT equal. We’re different.

Let’s celebrate our differences as we surge ahead and rule the world.

By Priya Nigam, co-founder Pinig Tech Pvt Ltd, which provides customized tablets for the B2B segment.

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