Being two young female entrepreneurs ourselves and part of one of the best accelerator programs in Europe we realized that we are working in a male dominated environment. We therefore thought about addressing the topic regarding the lack of female presence in the entrepreneurial environment and in general women in leading positions within companies. What is it that scares women away from being an entrepreneur or taking a leading role within a company?
Looking at our own industry, fashion, across 50 major fashion brands studied by Business of Fashion, only seven (or 14 percent) are run by women, and about 25 percent of board members of publicly-traded fashion and luxury companies are women. While women make up more than 70 percent of the total workforce, yet they hold less than 25 percent of leadership positions in top fashion companies. As a matter of fact in October 2014, just 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs.
This brings up an interesting discussion making us consider what is it that makes women less likely to get a senior role in a company or start their own entrepreneurial journey? Here are the top reasons we came across:
- Women systematically underestimate their own abilities. Unfortunately women lack confidence, which has an impact on how they advance at work.
- Women are hesitant to negotiate. Only 7% of women entering the workforce negotiate their salary in contrast to 57% of men.
- Women are concerned regarding building a life-work balance that leads them to feelings of guilt.
- Women are risk averse, they would miss an opportunity in the fear of failure.
So what is our advice as entrepreneurs to women in order to overcome these barriers? You should focus on:
- ambition — openly express your career goals and pursue them
- work-life balance
- self marketing — build networks to promote yourselves with influential others
- exposure — manage international mobility
- embrace risk — say “yes” to unexpected opportunities even if they scare you
- confidence — take a look at what you do and what you contribute on a daily basis and have a clear understating of your market value
- negotiate — ￼have a vision for your career, be strategic about it and communicate what you deserve
We hope to see more female entrepreneurs joining us soon!