August is Women’s Month in South Africa, an opportunity to reflect on the role of women in our society. As a business owned and run by women, we want to narrow this focus and take a look at women in business.
Not the Fortune 500 CEOs and the like, just women in business in general. Businesses we deal with that are run by women.
Britain has had a number of powerful queens over the centuries, as well as female prime ministers. Indira Gandhi was the first woman prime minister of a major country, Maggie Thatcher was called the Iron Lady and Angela Merkel was considered the most powerful politician in the world before she retired as Chancellor of Germany.
Women have excelled in science, literature, the arts, music and all other fields of human endeavour. Yet when it comes to business leadership, women are woefully underrepresented.
The glass ceiling may be cracking, but it is still very much intact. Why is this?
Until not so long ago almost all societies were biased in the way they saw men’s and women’s roles. This bias started early, in schools. Girls did home economics, boys did metal and woodwork. It was assumed boys were good at maths and science and girls were not, which was patent nonsense.
But that societal bias was strong. A woman’s place was in the home, a man’s at work looking after the family. A couple of generations ago, single-income families became unviable and more women went to work.
Even then women earned less than men for doing exactly the same work. Women’s mandatory retirement age was five years lower than men’s. Promotions routinely went to men.
Societal change takes time, but the change in the status of women, especially in business, is accelerating. We have realised that running a business requires brains, not brawn. It needs hard work, guts and determination to start and grow a business.
As women business owners, we know our sisters have the brains, work ethic and determination to succeed in whatever task they take up. Whether it is raising a family or growing a business, or both.
It’s August. It’s Women’s Month. Go for it!
Article Credit: Philip Gelderblom