Social Problems Faced by Women

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We may not like to admit it, but our society is still very much divided by gender lines. Girls are still expected to play with dolls and favor the arts, while boys are encouraged to play sports and go into science or technology. And statistically, women are still paid less than our male counterparts.

In male-dominated corporate America, we often find ourselves combating preconceived expectations of how we should act and communicate.

Business News Daily lists this as one of the top social problems faced by women entrepreneurs today, noting, “[W]omen may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically ‘male’ attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.”

There’s also a flip side, however. I know that I sometimes worry about coming off as too strong or aggressive. But I think the aforementioned advice still rings true. No one (woman or not) should let their gender – or any related fears – dictate their actions. I feel that we all have a much better chance of succeeding in life if we remain true to our convictions.

Interestingly enough, women are actually promoted into high-profile leadership positions during times of crisis – but it’s not for the reason you might think. Fast Company cites a 2010 study, noting, “women are tapped not because female characteristics are valued, but because the stereotypical male traits, such as being competitive and uncompromising, aren’t perceived as being helpful during a turnaround.”

So, women are chosen for these positions simply because we are not men? Maybe I’m being naïve, but I can’t help but think: Shouldn’t we be chosen based on merit? Again, here women are being judged not by the content of our character or our qualifications, but by our gender.

Now, I still think it’s fantastic that women are climbing the ranks in Fortune 500 companies, no matter the reason. What better way for us to prove that we are just as competent (if not more so) than male leaders? What better way for us to defy expectations and challenge social mores head on?

But are we being set up to fail? As Fast Company states, “Studies have found that those who’ve gotten through glass ceilings are teetering on a ‘glass cliff’ or more likely to be pushed out of their jobs.”

I think we can buck this trend. First, we must simply focus on our strengths rather than worrying about meeting expectations. Next, we cannot be afraid to ask for help. I’m a big proponent of women who mentor, as you’ve read in my previous blogs. I also recommend surrounding yourself with people (ideally other women) who have the expertise you may lack (tap into a professional network).

Finally, we must have confidence in our aptitude and leadership style. I’ve written a lot about leadership for women, and that’s because I think we all have natural leadership abilities. It’s how we tap into and nurture these abilities that makes the difference between simply being a leader and being a great one – or in this case, falling off the glass cliff or conquering it!

What social problems have you faced in the business world?

Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs

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More than nine million businesses today are owned by women, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. On top of that, woman-owned companies account for 31 percent of all privately held firms in the United States.

It’s a fact: More and more women are becoming business owners. But the path to entrepreneurship isn’t without challenges. As a woman and entrepreneur, I know this firsthand.

I’ve experienced my fair share of bumps in the road. But my biggest challenge, by far, was simply learning how to run a business on my own. I didn’t have anyone to teach or guide me. I had no support network or strong female mentor to look up to. I was left to make my own mistakes and learn from them. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but we’d all rather have the extra help, right?

I think this is a problem many women who are just starting their businesses encounter. Award-winning entrepreneur Bonnie Marcus attributes it to the fact that women entrepreneurs have limited access to industry networks and connections.

According to Marcus, “It’s tough for newcomers, especially women, to be accepted in many of these networks. Women entrepreneurs feel they have to work harder to develop relationships and demonstrate that they belong especially in male dominated industries. They work harder to be taken seriously.”

Networks dominated by men, in particular, can be a stumbling block for women because we do not share a common background with our male counterparts. Regardless, I think a little confidence can go a long way in feeling like we belong. Remember that we are usually our greatest critics.

Knowing what I know now, I would surround myself with others who had the expertise I needed from the beginning. I’m talking about people willing to share their wisdom with me, or even better, willing to act as my mentor or management consultant.

So, how do you even find a professional network? It usually starts with locating that one person who shares your business goals or works in your niche and is enthusiastic about helping you. Ideally, this connection will open up her entire network for you.

Finding this type of support won’t necessarily be easy; but once you know what (or who) to look for, you’ll notice that people start coming out of the woodwork. And there are lots of resources out there, too (again, you just have to open your eyes and start looking for them).

Bonnie Marcus recommends BusinessAdvising.org, a great platform that matches small business owners with expert advisors in dozens of fields. You can find more recommendations in my recent blog post on women who mentor.

Learning how to run your business and finding a support network are not the only challenges you will likely face as a burgeoning business owner. There are many challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and we all have different experiences with them.

What’s most important, for me, is how we rise to the occasion. So go forth with confidence and tackle those challenges head on. I promise you will be the better for it!

Listen and Learn

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I am probably more of a talker than a listener, but actually really enjoy listening and learning from others. I tend to get very engaged in a conversation and notice I interrupt occasionally, but not because I am being rude. Most of it is because I am scared I am going to forget what I want to share with them, especially if I feel it is very valuable! I really do have a short memory!

When I leave from a conversation, I do tend to replay some of it to see if I was really bad and not fully listening and letting them finish. It is a goal of mine to be more aware of listening well. When I have been able to do it, there is no question of the amount of information I learn, and I also have a better feeling about our conversation overall.

Some of my favorite conversations, where I feel like I have listened best have been during our Remarkable Women Podcasts. I learn so much from each of our guests! I am always eager to listen well and take notes from their wisdom and experiences.

Remarkable Inspiration for January 2017

I often receive inspiring videos and articles from my friends and colleagues. They know I’m always on the lookout for positive stories and quotes. I am so grateful for the caring and uplifting women in my life and want to spread the love and inspiration with my network here at Remarkable Women.

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I honestly had no clue what this video was about originally, but when something like this comes from someone in your life who inspires you and is always positive, you are going to watch that video!

It was very clear to me after watching it, that the connection and space they created to support each other was remarkable. The women in this story made me feel good inside. You just have to watch to see what these remarkable women created!  

I think we can all agree we are faced with obstacles and challenges most days. This video is simple, but a powerful one. What are you holding onto right now?

Remarkable Women Podcast – Neena Jhaveri

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neena Neena Jhaveri is a Remarkable Woman from Virginia. She is an artist, potter, and designer, and a wife and mother to two grown-up children.

Neena has been following her passion since she was five years old. I was impressed at how from such a young age, she knew what she loved, and she had the belief to go after it with a beautiful focus. As she grew, she competed in art contests, took art lessons, and drew and painted as often as she was able. She was fortunate to have very supportive parents. As you listen to this podcast, you will appreciate her encouragement to follow your inner guidance. In doing so, life and career become one thing.

Neena is very clear on what is most important to her, one main thing I completely resonated with being “meaningful connections.” We both seek out those rich conversations where you can lock eyes and be real, with no pretension or judgment. Those types of friendships sustain time and distance.

She reminded me that we can learn from each person we meet and be eager and excited to see who will be crossing our path each day.

I loved hearing Neena’s tenacity as she shared the challenges along her journey to becoming an artist. I wish everyone was so fortunate to have such leadership and support from their parents.

We conclude our Podcast with one Success Tip and one Wish to Change the World. Listen in through the end to hear her insight and desire.

I have to say that I was honored to be able to visit Neena’s studio showroom and meet her in person. It was a wonderful time of genuine connection. For those who cannot visit her personally in Virginia, be sure to follow her Instagram account or shop from her online store for all sorts of beautiful artwork. Just seeing all her colorful work always makes me happy and leaves me inspired for the day ahead!

You Are Truly a Remarkable Woman

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My definition of a “remarkable woman” is one who is an encourager – who empowers other women, who is authentic, who is a mentor, and who has the courage to take risks. Now, I don’t think you need all of these traits to be remarkable; in fact, even if you embody just one of these, I think that makes you remarkable.

This is a particularly important for me because I find that so many women are too quick to say they are not remarkable. I know this because I approach exceptional women often as potential subjects for my monthly Remarkable Women podcast. And it surprises me that many of them are hesitant because they do not see themselves as remarkable. They don’t feel like they have anything to talk about.

What I want all women to know is this: You are all remarkable! You don’t have to conform to the corporate definition of remarkable; you don’t have to be a high-powered businesswoman with a big job. You don’t have to experience this huge amount of success or win awards to be remarkable.

Being a mentor to your children makes you remarkable. Graduating from high school is remarkable. Surviving cancer is remarkable.

The women I interviewed for my podcast are all remarkable in different ways. They have included a yoga instructor, a mother, small business owner, an author, a realtor, a dream coach, a singer, and an entrepreneur. And you probably won’t be too surprised to find out that some of these are not mutually exclusive!

As women, we wear many hats. We’re constantly balancing work, family, and leisure We try to do it all, and sometimes that makes us feel like we’re not accomplishing anything. It can make us lose sight of all the positive, amazing things we do on a daily basis – things that seem ordinary but are really extraordinary.

I want you to know that anything you do that displays even one of the traits I mentioned earlier – empowerment, authenticity, mentorship, and courage – makes you a truly remarkable woman. And you shouldn’t be shy about touting it or talking about it!

I challenge you to look at your life objectively. Throw all your criticisms and judgments of yourself out the window, and find all the ways that you are remarkable. And once you know what they are, sing them from the rooftops.

I’d love to hear what makes you a truly remarkable woman!