There are many barriers faced by women in business. Women struggle with gender bias, racial discrimination, and stereotyping. Yet, despite these roadblocks, they still thrive and find success as entrepreneurs.
2020 has changed the way we operate. From our personal priorities to how we do business, we’re having to examine every part of our lives and find ways to do and be better. The coronavirus is teaching us how to be more present, careful, and intentional with our lives, health, and safety. A rise in unemployment has us rethinking our streams of income and personal finances… and civil unrest regarding the oppressions and unjust treatment of black Americans, by law enforcement, has the world wondering what America stands for.
As a black woman navigating the world of business, there are certain realities we have to face. We face bias for our gender and our race. The barriers stacked against us are plentiful but there are a few that we see more often than others.
widely accepted stereotypes
As a woman in business, you will notice that you’re often patronized by men, and sometimes even other women. You’ll likely be sized up the moment you enter the room. The problem with being stereotyped is that the actual stereotype is most often wrong and unwarranted.
When people stereotype you before they have an understanding of who you are or what you represent, they create a preconceived notion and think they know what to expect.
Men may already have you pegged as emotional, weak, not assertive, aggressive, or passive. Or, you’ll be expected to represent traditionally feminine industries like beauty, apparel, or household products. What people with internal bias fail to realize is that women represent and dominate in all industries from cannabis, vaccination research, power tools, AI, and even lesser-known arenas like furniture building, auto mechanics, STEM research, robotic engineering, or even recyclable cooking oil (you can learn more about that here).
Right from the start, you’ll be judged differently. Some will only notice the color of your skin, while others will take issue with the fact that you’re a woman. Often you’ll find yourself facing down both. There is no one perfect way to overcome the societal judgments of others. You can only remain determined, do your best, and never let the opinions or actions of others deter your dreams and goals.
Professional women are often labeled as “emotional.” It’s as if we have a flaw that should be suppressed and overcome. Despite the negative connotations associated with having emotion in the workplace, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There is a difference between being unable to control your emotions
and having emotional intelligence.
As a business owner, no woman should ever feel pressured to suppress her feelings.
We should all strive for emotional intelligence. If you are emotionally intelligent, it means that you are emotionally attuned to yourself and others. Some of the best businesses prosper because they operate effectively through empathy and genuine concern for the well-being of others.