Last week I had been a women’s entrepreneurship event wanting to get a deeper sense of the kind of support that women may require in the entrepreneurial eco-system.
I have heard about how women who have been in the gaming industry (In the US) have been having it tough due to the men domination and some of them continue despite receiving death threats and rape threats, for having had an opinion about how shitty a game was. I have also heard about women being turned down VC funding because they are, women. The VCs assume that they will eventually get pregnant and waiver in their mission.
During the course of the event I heard a lady complain to the Managing Director of a large ladies focused banking organisation about their loan practices. She said “The bank provides unto One Crore as support, collateral free to women, but once the entrepreneur has setup a business and needs further capital to grow, the bank is unwilling to extend a similar loan to the tune of 2.5 Crores, collateral free”. The Banker responded politely by saying, “We expect you to have built an asset by that time; you need to have built an asset by that time”.
At this point, I thought, wait a minute, I do not think any business run by a man would ever manage this kind of a loan! Does supporting women mean doing things that go against the very fibres on which a banking system is built? The only question in my mind was; how is this equal?
In general, life is difficult; entrepreneurship, even more so and it takes someone with extraordinary grit and courage to overcome the challenges and be successful.
“If you want to DO something extraordinary, you have to BE extraordinary!”
After much thinking I realised that most of the obstacles faced by women today are created by their parents.
Let me explain.
How many times have you heard a father tell his young son, “Come on, don’t sit around crying like a girl”. Well, dusting it off and moving on is something that is taught when such statements are made and should you not be teaching your girls the same thing. Why is it okay for a girl to sit around crying?
To the contrary, girls are encouraged not to fight, not to oppose, not to engage in verbal abuse; if they tend to behave in that manner, they are told to “behave like a girl/lady”. Well you see the glass ceiling is being built here! This girl probably would never fight hard/fiercely enough to reach the top.
Parents need to start teaching their children to be extraordinary people, boy or girl. To overcome difficulties, pain, frustration and sorrow, whether it is a boy or a girl, because they are both going to face the same situations in life at some point of time or the other. What is taught today would end up defining their response in the future.
If you want want women to be successful entrepreneurs you need to start telling them at the age of 8 that they just need to be tough, that the world will not be fair and that they need to be able to fight it. Just like boys even girls need to be encouraged to dust it off and move on. It is not okay for anyone to sit around crying; boy, girl, child or adult.
Our society is defined by how bring up our young ones. They will be the decision makers tomorrow. We need to make a change today in our outlook and our teaching to make it an equal tomorrow.