Innovate UK say:
There are over 900 blue plaques in London alone - women feature on just 14% of them.
One in three women say their gender has negatively impacted their career in innovation
A lack of role models has been cited as the key barrier to driving more female innovators into the UK innovation sector
Women-led SMEs could potentially contribute a massive £180bn GVA to the UK by 2025
Is the world still poised towards men in an entrepreneurship role. Are the concessions for women in business evening the playing field?
I saw an article the recently saying that business is now an even playing field for women, and couldn’t help but think, where on earth this conclusion came from?
Of course, women in business have anti-discrimination laws and support to help them succeed, as well access to women helping women spheres, but does this mean we are equal?
The article went on to saying it is ‘no longer unusual to have women in business’ although that’s hardly an argument. 100 years ago there was close to no women in business, other than those who were very desperate earning next to nothing. Is better than before really the same as even?
On the other hand though, even with a playing field that is not even, is it not even equally? We may find that men are also discriminated against when the culture of the company is heavily female, or the products aimed at women. Or are there opportunities that come up that will be awarded to a woman over a man because of political reasons rather than merit?
A politically correct minefield
Gender politics is always a minefield. Once we are no longer allowed to actively, openly discriminate it becomes very hard to see discrimination in play, even if it is in play. But then you have the flip position where some people see injustice everywhere, when it’s not in play.
How can we ever judge how men and women get treated differently, when we can never manufacture the exact situation both ways? Especially when we are looking from a ‘big picture’ scenario.
Just like different sales people can sell the same product with varying degrees of success based on their personality, their look, timing, comedy, judgement, education, luck and a million other factors that affect an outcome, entrepreneurs have even more factors and spinning plates to contest with. At what point of the process does gender discrimination come into play, and how do we know it's not any other variable?
You only live from one perspective. You can change your scenario and friend circles to try to understand other points of view, but in general you can only live live my life as yourself. From my perspective have never personally felt as though my gender has affected my chances, unless it was in a way that worked subtly in the background, but there have been plenty of opportunities to mistake a tone, or an outcome to another attribute. I have noticed mild cases of sexism, from both men and women, and often these are more based on perceived attractiveness of parties than gender politics, which could be potentially just as discriminatory.
Friendship in business
It is evident that personal relationships play into business and entrepreneurship. There are those who whole heartedly believe as Harry said to Sally, that men and women can never be just friends, a misogynistic sentiment that is echoed again and again through our sex obsessed society. If this a perception, then it is bound to affect business, and then how can we ever be on an even playing field?
When it comes down to it, feminism has become an ugly word. The most ridiculous feminists shout the loudest, with the centrists trying to ignore any issue, desperate to not be compared to the gender extremists. Yes we live in a more equal world than our parents, and yes if it weren’t for those on the fringes of the argument, we wouldn’t have pushed those barriers in the first place. Some women truly once believed they were better off with men remaining fully in charge of their lives and their freedom and that asking to vote, or to work was extreme.
But at a certain point the equality lines begin to blur, we can’t point the finger blindly on a hunch, and we can’t turn the world genderless. We can still point out clear discrimination happily, but measuring the ‘playing field’ as a whole will therefore continue to be an unattainable goal.