Recently, there was quite a bit of angst over of Wonder Woman. There’s finally a woman superhero movie, but apparently we can’t have nice things because there’s even a lawsuit. Women can get cheap/free drinks during “ladies’ night” at a bar and no one cries and pees themselves. But by all means, let’s file suit over a single screening of a movie. And when Black Panther hits theaters, I shudder to think what stupidity will follow, if this was any indication.
And then there was the study done in Sweden that looked at what said about entrepreneurs behind closed doors, as they were deciding on who would get funding. I’ll let you guess who was described as “young and promising” and who was “young and inexperienced, good-looking and careless with money“.
But while women business owners are at a disadvantage because of attitudes leftover from the beginning of recorded history, we don’t quit. Here’s what you’d lose if we did and how we can keep that from happening.
Before we go there, let’s see how we got here
Throughout history, there have been powerful women. There have been hundreds of queens, empresses, and rulers, though more than a few were co-rulers with a man, or had a position of power because they gave birth to the current male ruler (hail , for you GoT fans).
Let’s do a quick quiz: what do you remember about from history class? A beautiful seductress that supposedly wielded her asp as a deadly weapon is usually the popular answer. Alas, poor Marc Antony. Well, yes, that’s true, but in a different way. He was financially poor, too – he borrowed money from her to finance a war! Seems Cleopatra was a good ruler and Egypt had prospered while everyone else was busy looking at her asp.
We’ll fast forward through the next couple thousand years but here are some of the things we wouldn’t have if women had decided not to participate: , (Dr. Jackson was also the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT), and little things like (men still thought pulling over to knock the snow off the car was safer than pulling a lever to operate the wipers.) There’s a reason necessity is the mother of invention.
Today’s entrepreneurial landscape
Here we are in 2017, a year in which some thought we’d be flying around our neighborhoods like The Jetsons. While we’re getting a bit closer with self-driving cars and AIs that are getting increasingly more Skynet-like, there’s still a long way to go. That goes for both flying cars and attitudes.
While most of the laws about women owning property and working in dangerous occupations have been removed from the books here in the US, the attitude that brought them into being has not. Healthcare and birth control have been in the sights of the GOP and have taken some serious hits. And if you’re a transgender woman, in some states you can’t even use a public restroom without fear.
But despite all the bullshit, women entrepreneurs keep at it.
“As of 2016, it is estimated that there are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.”
Those are some impressive numbers. The report goes on to say that while things haven’t completely reached pre-Recession levels, women are continuing to knock it out of the park, especially women of color. Latinas lead the way in the growth of the number of firms, and African American women-owned firms increased by 112% (and make up 61% of all African American-owned businesses).
“One of the most remarkable trends over the past decade has been the phenomenal growth in the number of firms owned by women of color.”
While only of start-ups have female founders, women still continue to have lead ground-breaking initiatives in technology and other industries. I won’t rehash the horrors of Sexist Valley, I mean, Silicon Valley, but suffice it to say, tech isn’t the friendliest toward women in STEM.
So we persevere, armed with our visions and dreams and good old-fashioned determination. Being a woman might never be easy, but we’re up to the challenge. Game on.
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