I hate to disagree, but….

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!

Published by Fiona

Fiona was once a hands-on scientist and still has a curious mind. She combines strategic thinking with an entrepreneurial attitude and the ability to make great connections. She also takes photos.

4 thoughts on “I hate to disagree, but….

  1. Catching up with Sunday paper reading I’ve just come across an Observer article: ‘The pioneering women that the world of science forgot’. It details the groundbreaking work of scientists such as Caroline Herschel (discoverer of 8 new comets when fewer than 30 were known) and Jane Marcet who wrote hugely popular bestsellers explaining chemistry (and inspiring, amongst others, Michael Faraday to take up the science.) Others include Ada Lovelace, Maria Mitchell and Margaret Cavendish. Have we ever heard of them? I suspect few have. Why not? Although the Royal Society was founded in 1660 women were not admitted as fellows until 1945. They therefore lacked ‘legitimacy’. Why? Because the boys didn’t want them in their club.

    It is for reasons such as these that women, historically, decide to set up their own ‘clubs’ with predominantly female membership. Women tend to set up their own organisations, not because they winge and want special treatment but because they can sometimes feel stronger united and supported by the help and advice of other women. And they don’t, in my experience, always want to set up businesses on the same models as many men. There’s room for all kinds of support models for men and women. If women find these organisations useful, great! If they want to develop lifestyle businesses instead of multi-million pound empires, fine! And there are plenty of inspiring women out there, so let’s keep talking about them so they don’t all but disappear like the women who revolutionised science in days gone by.

    1. Thanks for your wise words, Dilly. We definitely need more awareness of the great women of our past and present, so women are aware of what they can achieve, and get credit for what they do. But we should then be free to do what suits us (as should men!)

  2. This is a topic really close to my heart. I genuinely believe all women need support, whether they are running a lifestyle or global business. I also genuinely believe all men need support, whether they are running a lifestyle or global business – and whether they think they do or not (but that’s a whole other discussion).
    I think the problem lies long before a woman makes up her mind to start a business – it starts with the lack of strong, successful female role models.
    If we had more, visiting schools and universities and sharing exciting and aspirational experiences, the choices facing women starting a business may well be more inspired.

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