The main challenge is that we live in a man’s world.
I work in a male-dominated industry. Having said that, I have realized lately that I often find myself in meetings or networking lunches and events where I am one of the few women in the room. I never paid too much attention to this but now that I do, it’s becoming more and more obvious.
I have been in situations where other partners had 90% of their job to devote to sales, while you have 40% of your time to devote to sales. And yet often sales is considered more valuable and worthy of promotions versus managing HR, people, processes and keeping the company running. It’s easy to measure the value of sales. But not everyone understands how hard and valuable it is to manage the company.
I have been talking to women-owned and operated businesses recently and they feel that they have to do so much more work to build trust and win a new client than if they were a man.
According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn, most women commonly feel that they have to “provide more evidence of their competence than men and they have their judgment questioned in their area of expertise”.
The same study mentions that women often feel the added scrutiny that comes from being the only woman in the room. Based on that they think, it’s harder for them to advance. This finding confirms the chat I had with a colleague who was working for a large corporation for over 10 years and said that her decisions were questioned such that it undermines her best judgement and self confidence.
I think women entrepreneurs need to create a positive, supportive ecosystem filled with mentors and “sponsors” to help them advance in their journey.
In addition, I think women need to change their mindsets. Instead of being interested in being role models, they might need to change to be solely “motivated by the opportunity to impact the success of their company.” (source)
I try to give the advice that I would have loved to receive when I first started in 2006. Each entrepreneur has different experience and skills. I feel my role is to listen and guide as a mentor to help provide some input to fill in the gaps.
My ultimate goal is to help other women entrepreneurs succeed faster.
Learn more about Stefanie in her Mentor Spotlight here