3 Ways Women Can Open Their Own Doors to Entrepreneurial Success
Are you concerned about glass ceilings, gender discrimination, and corporate boardrooms that are frequently a men-only playground? Here are three ways women can open their own doors to entrepreneurial success.
1) Math & Science
There is no better investment in oneself than education.
For the eighth year in a row, the majority of 2016 U.S. doctoral degrees were awarded to women who outnumbered their male counterparts by 35%, but male graduate students still vastly outnumber women in the study of engineering and computer science—a gender gap considered by some to be a “national crisis”—and one that might curtail the hopes of many women in the entrepreneurial workforce… but it shouldn’t! Here’s why.
74 percent of girls express interest in math and science and STEM-based learning is more targeted for girls than ever before. Programs like the New York Academy of Sciences’ 1000 Girls — 1000 Futures, The Scientista Foundation and Million Women Mentors are just a few notable efforts making strides.
It’s also important to note that women who want to educate themselves don’t have to acquire copious amounts of debt in order to do so. Udemy offers 55,000 online courses including Introduction to Web Development: HTML, The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship, or Statistics for Business Analytics—all of which cost around $15. Harvard offers free materials on iTunes U, where you can listen to Michael Sandel give his famous “Justice” lectures—or learn about the intersection of science and cooking and music—all free of charge.
The National Council for Women and Information Technology predicts that there will be around 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the U.S. by 2020, and these jobs will be filled by women with STEM backgrounds. Scientific and mathematical education is a key factor for women who wish to beat the odds in a variety of male-dominated fields, particularly those that depend on information technology.
2) Exercise Voice
According to at least one source, men do a whopping 75% of the talking during an average corporate meeting. That leaves very little space for women to make their ideas known.
In her book, Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed, Judith Humphrey offers some tactile advice to women on improving their communication skills. According to Humphrey, a woman must develop a strong, clear voice and learn how to take advantage of “center stage” opportunities, from making presentations to informally pitching ideas to colleagues in the coffee room. Women have to speak up, and have to take back their share of corporate meeting communications. Sometimes just knowing that the disparity between male and female communication exists, is helpful to a woman to give her the confidence and impetus to speak up.
As women, we collectively gain voice from the sacrifices of women like Anita Hill, an African-American law professor who went before an all-male panel to testify that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Or Betty Dukes, who decided to take on Walmart for gender discrimination; or Rev. Addie Wyatt, a women’s rights activist who was one of the original founders of the Coalition of Labor Union Women. The list of women that have risked everything to speak up goes on and on. Let’s make sure that there voices and their fight is not for nothing.
These women bravely exercised their voice; and subsequently, have helped change the social and professional expectations of women in America. But if we don’t keep exercising our rights and our voices, we can lose the advantage these brave women have helped us
3) Financial Literacy
Financial literacy should be a priority for any woman entering the workplace, and especially those hoping to enter the competitive entrepreneurial environment.
Women are up against some tough stats. They’re still making ~.80¢ for every dollar that their male counterparts earn—more than 30 years after the Wall Street Journal first identified the phenomenon of a “glass ceiling. Last year, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies, while male-led companies garnered $58.2 billion in borrowed support. These stats all despite the fact the women-led companies perform 3 times better than the S&P 500.
Accounting, economics, and banking have methodologies and lexicons all their own—and to open the doors to investment, growth, and balanced budgets—entrepreneurial women must challenge themselves to never stop learning. The odds are stacked against women, so they must be that much more well spoken and well versed in financials than their male counterparts. They need to prove to potential investors, and strategic partners that they are well positioned for success by expertly knowing their financials and strategic financial startegy.
And whenever you need motivation, just follow the money! Hegemony and injustice can be as inspirational as they are overwhelming… it’s all a matter of entrepreneurial perspective.
This guest post was authored by Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina Parsons is CEO of Palo Alto Software, developer of the best-selling business management software, LivePlan. Palo Alto Software develops software and tools specifically targeted for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Sabrina assumed the CEO role in May 2007 and is responsible for Palo Alto’s business planning, fiscal and strategic goals and all of the company’s traditional marketing. She is a staunch supporter of entrepreneurs, and supports entrepreneurial organizations.
She is on the board of the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (www.princetonen.org). Sabrina has chaired the Willamette Angel Conference twice. (http://www.willametteconference.com/). She is on the Board of Directors for RAIN, the Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator Innovation Network. She is a graduate of Princeton University.
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