I’ve just read a blog by @tartancat which rants against positive discrimination of women in business, and I felt that I had to comment.
OK, I will admit that I agree with much of what you say, but hey, I love an argument, so here’s a slightly different perspective. Women-only events and support is not aimed at the likes of you and me. We are confident, educated women who are not intimidated by any man. My Dad is ‘old-fashioned’ in many ways, but he always has and always will encourage me to be ambitious, in education and in business. He thinks that I can do anything I set my mind to, just like him.
But some women (and I mean some, not all) are not so lucky. Some have never been supported by their families, have never had people encourage them and tell them how good they are. And yet something inside them has made them decide to create a business. Maybe its small, maybe its ‘lifestyle’. Maybe it has to be, because they don’t have the self-belief to aspire to anything bigger. Or maybe they are content with a small business, because of all the other things going on in their lives. What’s wrong with that? And these women need a place where they can be secure, and gain the support of other women. Lets face it, women are usually more nurturing and supportive than men (I know that’s a generalisation; want to make something of it?). So lets create a safe space where these women are helped to make a success of their small business, and build their self-esteem. Let them inspire their daughters (and sons) to become strong, self-reliant individuals with great role model mothers.
I know that men create ‘lifestyle’ businesses too, and that some lack confidence and self esteem, and are deserving of extra support. But there are far more women that fit that description, and if that means there is a market for women-only support, then why knock the people that service that market?
Finally, I go to a lot of networking events, but you know which one I enjoy the most? The one that never feels like work, the one that I feel like I am amongst old friends, even though I’ve only just met them? That’s right, its women-only (‘Scottish Women in Business‘).
P.S. For a fabulous post about the need for long term action to change people’s attitudes to women in technology, read this!