While looking into business grants recently, I was asked, “Why are women a minority?” My answer was that it is “obviously” not based on demographic disadvantage, but attitudinal. Since the feminist movement, women have made great strides in professional equality. Their salaries are becoming more comparable. Their management opportunities are becoming more comparable. Their educational levels are more comparable.
Regardless, speaking as the youngest daughter with two much older big brothers, I was not taught that the world is my oyster. The main message that I took from Catholic grade school was to be meek and humble. I took this to heart when people teased me. My brothers were encouraging me to fight back, but that seemed like something boys do; a good little girl should just absorb it, it seemed, or ignore it, which a sensitive girl just can’t seem to do. It seems that a major component of my professional and personal growth through the years actually depends on UNLEARNING to be meek and humble, and yet still accept myself as a “good girl.”
As a teenager I really related to the No Doubt song “Just A Girl.” My brothers were given many more freedoms. They easily found jobs at 14. With work permit in hand, I applied to practically every food vendor in the mall. I finally was given a job (through my network, even though I would’ve told you that I didn’t have one) at Orange Julius at just shy of 16. Sure, I’d done babysitting, but only while my uncle was home. To be honest, I really didn’t know how to entertain kids; it wasn’t my talent, but it was the only work available to me. Even neighborhood raking and shoveling went to the strapping teenage boys.
Gabby Reese is out there promoting/defending her book, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper: A Guide to the Less than Perfect Life, in which she admits that, though she is a strong female, the best way to make her household and marriage run smoothly is to assume the submissive role. Meanwhile, Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, points out in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, that these gender role stereotypes and adopted self-images are what keep women out of the board room and C-level positions.
15-20% of companies have women in C-level positions.
This is the major reason that women remain a minority business owner. Now, the best we can do for each other is to help one another reach for BIG goals, rather than settling for what we can squeeze out of our career with all of our other responsibilities. If you have ideas on how we can do this, please share a comment. In the meantime, I will be following more women on how to have it all and, as usual, I will keep you apprised of what I learn.
UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE!