It is no secret that women on average have to jump through more hoops to success than men. Even those who can find a decent career path for themselves still have to deal with the discrimination in the workplace and are constantly living under the glass ceiling. Despite all this, many women have made it past the hurdles and defied the odds. We can look at the list of the many women who have made it into CEO positions of Fortune 500 companies such as Mary Barra (General Motors), Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard), and Denise Morrison (Campbell Soup) and find inspiration and hope for our own endeavors. From a feminist lens, I still believe that these women and others like them are infinitely more powerful than men in similar positions. Not only did they have to do many of the same things that men did to get to the same position, they also dealt with the doubt, politics, and discrimination that comes from being a woman in business—obstacles that most men have no experience with. For some women, these added pressures can be discouraging and often times too much to handle. If you ever find yourself in a seemingly hopeless position, don’t give up! The women who have already been there know its worth every bit of the struggle. For those particularly adamant about their success, entrepreneurship is a great alternative. Take a detour past all the men standing in the way and be the business.
There are so many benefits in being your own boss. As an entrepreneur, you are instantly and without question appointed as the CEO of your venture(s). You can hire who you see fit, if anyone at all, and you have control and confidence in growing whatever it is that you find potential and passion in. We all know about the successful male entrepreneurs, but I think many people undermine how many women have done the same things and achieved great success. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is a billionaire who started her business with a $5000 life savings and a goal. She went from selling her product from her apartment to branding her product to be as popular as Kleenex is to tissues. I am sure most of us on social media nowadays have heard about and even read articles from the Huffington Post, founded by Arianna Huffington. Huffington Post is now a very well known Pulitzer-Prize winning publication site. Let’s not forget about J.K. Rowling, author and founder of all things Harry Potter, or Oprah Winfrey who overcame her difficult upbringing to become one of the most powerful women and business moguls of her time. The list goes on and on, and while I don’t discount male entrepreneurs/CEOs, its clear that women have so much untapped potential that could be utilized.
Instead of spending so much energy concentrating on proving your worth in a business market dominated by men, why not channel all of that energy into something that you can call your own? I have always felt that women are capable of being strong leaders regardless of our gentle nature because we have many advantages over men.
Advantage #1: Woman can be extremely creative, and in different ways than men.
Many men tend to think very logically and statistically, which is a great trait but lacks the creativity needed to be innovative in marketing and creation. If you’ve ever seen any episodes of “The Apprentice,” the competitions between men and women are always fascinating to watch because of the very different approaches each group takes. More often than not, these creative bursts of ideas that women bring to the table win out over their counterparts. For more insight on this, take a peek at Margaret Mead’s thoughts on the matter.
Advantage #2: Women generally have higher emotional intelligence than men.
A woman knows how to appeal to both sexes alike when it comes marketing and selling with an emotional component. Men faced with the task of selling a Roomba Vacuum might list the ease of use, electrical capabilities, and bargain price. Women faced with the same task might try to sell it by pointing out how much stress and time it can save, what other things could be done instead of vacuuming (like spending time with the kids or date night with the hubby), and the peace of mind that comes with always being able to come home to a perfectly vacuumed home. Of course, both approaches might be able to sell the item, but the male’s approach completely leaves out the emotional component that many women (and even some men) need in order to warrant the purchase of high ticket item.
Advantage #3: Women tend to have stronger people skills when it comes to customer service.
Going back to the whole emotional thing, they are able to create strong rapport and lasting interpersonal relationships with clients. Empathy and a systematic approach create a strong team when it comes to providing good service. Women are caring and detail oriented and know just the kinds of things that make their customers feel valued and coming back for more. Sending out birthday or anniversary cards, “thank you” gift baskets, complimentary samples, creative packaging…these are all examples of small women’s touches that make all the world of difference and create a competitive advantage against similar businesses that might not offer the same things.
I fully support and applaud women in corporate work who are able to make their way to the top, but what I hope this article has pointed out is that we can do so much more than climb over a bunch of men, all the while fighting tooth and nail just to prove a point. Channel that energy and consider entrepreneurship. Not only are there infinite opportunities to join the field, the salary opportunities are endless. You can make yourself the top of an organization built on a foundation of things you care about and have passion for– not just something built on a substantiation of your social status and competency as a woman.