Women in Corporate America

Throughout history, the changing roles of women have gained a slow momentum in an adaptation to change.

Women were considered complete with submissive roles throughout history as elemental views were inclined on the masculine principle of strength. Many women have lacked the opportunity and power otherwise enjoyed by men and incapable of unorthodox opinions to attain complete individual freedom. In the 70’s and 80’s when women’s professions sprouted, most jobs were considered semi-subordinate and aspiring professions.

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Yet as soon as the booming female population gained substantial recognition, the masculine principle of a romantic Don Quixote has faced divided ovation. Women have slowly learned to become “success objects” in their field of choice with a generous grandstanding for their rights with an equally large voice of feminism.  Such movement was spun in the 60’s when women began to work for equal rights to end discrimination at home and to speak out against inequality. The vocal insistence shouted at women’s right to “have control over their own bodies and earn sufficient incomes” and slowly the roles of women became “distinct but complementary; to the welfare of society as a whole” which is slowly giving meaning to the role of women.

[1]In the earlier American culture, the family is viewed as the center of social life in a leisurely and comfortable manner. The structure however has learned to adapt tremendously to the “participation of women entrepreneurs as critical to modernity and economic prosperity”.[2] It is noteworthy to observe how a great number of women have become very resilient and adaptive to the changing circumstances.

More definite attempts to provide a historical overview of women in the business sector however paints the womenfolk in a slow work and arduous work towards entrepreneurship. For many authors, a woman’s journey towards entrepreneurship was “a vehicle for freedom”.[3] The continuing social structure of “a gender difference that has created women as inferior subjects in a racist society” has made women barely noticed.[4] Women needed to appear and behave in a masculine manner in order to command a degree of respect for her position in a corporate world commonly dominated by men. Women of the ancient times in Egypt like Hatshepsut, bear witness to such attitudes when she had to appear masculine and declare herself a pharaoh to gain respect and identity in her kingdom.[5] Successful women in the 18th and 19th century like “Madam C.J. Walker, Elizabeth Arden, Ida Rosenthal and others built their business around cosmetics, fashion especially for women consumers”.

[6] Women entrepreneurs were stashed in “food production, nutrition, health and child care compounded by the lack of access to technical know-how”.[7]The considerable changes in the 70’s and 80’s are evolved as the “labor market welcomed new domestic forms of production which accounted for the rise of small business enterprise”.[8] This promise of change in the 20th century also opened doors for women amidst sharing the historical trials encountered by their predecessors. In an effort to gain economic prosperity, the participation of women entrepreneurs became critical.

Radical feminism became one voice against gender oppression that was envisioned to erect a social order where women are not subordinated to men. Women have also gained management skills and expertise to start their own companies or take over existing family firms and businesses in their vows for freedom. Small scale business enterprise soon welcomed the circumstances of self-employed women and business owners in the face of diversity. In fact, the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO) has found recently that many American women “own about 1/3 of all US business companies and moving into arenas once dominated by men”.[9]In the face of professional achievements, women entrepreneurs despite their accomplishments have encountered significant restrictions in their business journey.

The structural conditions in the male-dominated society had proposed a separatist arrangement against feminist values of equality and participation could not gain any sense of wholeness. However, in an effort to erect a set of core values that would confront the differences encountered by women in the business structures intending to make their point, the identification of such activities became a political endeavor. They have since become strong commitments for social change that “marked the reference of business and entrepreneurship in the US”.[10] Some organizations that were recommended as subject of entrepreneurial studies for policy-making even faced ridicule by business scholars who refused to categorize them as entrepreneurial. Some feminist organizations could not be properly categorized due to lesbianism and other critical issues related to sexuality. Such ironic variations hallmarked the business society’s non-tolerance for diversity which in fact created social implications against the economy.

Common Obstacles Encountered by a Woman Entrepreneur1. Lack of Access to CapitalStudies designed to feature the common problems encountered by women in the course of erecting their business endeavors have finally been identified. One of the greatest complaints documented was “the restricted access to capital and collateral which still remains a heavy barrier to women achieving financial security within their entrepreneurial activity”.[11]  The lack of sufficient start-up funds and capital limited women from starting their own businesses.

Women entrepreneurs in fact are likely to “operate small enterprise with businesses employing less than 50 people” according to Reed’s study due to lack of funds.[12] Butler also provided banking sector proof that “men are even “more likely to be able to use their homes as collateral to start their business” as opposed to women doing the same”.[13]  The importance of women’s access to credit has been significantly called to identify major barriers for self-employment throughout the world. Men are more inclined to acquire credit and past data revealed how institutions are supportive of men and their business endeavors.

2. Business and Family OrientationA 1992 research once revealed that “women entrepreneurs and their business relationships are integrated within the family, societal and personal relationships”.[14]  Those who made these findings were quick to associate that the internal dynamics of women is emphasized around the family. Such contention supports the allegation that women could not move forward without the support of those close to her. Within this context is also the belief that women’s thinking and sets of values are activated in everyday life.

In fact, the truth of the matter is explained that “a high proportion of banks did not meet that capital funding needs of women, and women were instead forced to seek other financial help including finance companies, family and friends”.[15] While critics against women were actually quick to lodge on to the purported differences and labeled as problematic consequence against women entrepreneurship, the financial structure of society actually limits the possibilities for women. It was finally agreed however that while minority women focus on more informal network links, “white women entrepreneurs seem to focus on more formal connections to aid in their entrepreneurial journey”.[16] Managing time between the family and business may be a problem for many women entrepreneurs yet men also enjoy the same set of complaints. The challenge for women remains the same for every entrepreneur across genders. Women however take the risk; confront her competitors amidst balancing family life and making her business grow.

3. Level of Education and ExperienceIn Reed’s study, “60% of the women entrepreneurs had achieved a higher education or a bachelor’s degree while 12% possessed Masters Credentials and only 17% have reportedly finished high school education”.[17] Such findings were strongly biased towards views that active women are also educated.

Men start in the same opportunity niches that women do, it is however evident in the past that women start few businesses where women have been predominant. The “lack of experience in the field of business, entrepreneurial world and fields of business ownership” was likewise identified as a factor behind “women entrepreneurs clustering around industries such as retail, trade and service”.[18] Inherited from the years of oppressive attitudes against women, the range of pitfalls women faced is “centered on a general theme of frustration with the mainstream market circumstance”.[19] This led to problems associated with specific training and an apparent lack of appropriate business experience that men are just unwilling to share to their female counterparts. The amount of sectored segregation is a constraint in women’s business activity where specific divisions of labor restrict women in some areas thereby limiting the experience that can guarantee unquestionable aid in their passage to entrepreneurship. The business environment has actually created in the past years certain restraints and a glass ceiling in America. Women entrepreneurs has however stepped out of this structure as “1/3 of all US companies are now controlled by women” who are slowly moving out of areas otherwise dominated by male figures.

[20] Amidst facing certain obstacles, women have hurdled where opportunities were higher for men and marginally limited for them. Even with adequate funding, their business ventures were not an easy task and a hard truth for women entrepreneurs where restrictions and limitations abound. Legal and institutionalized discrimination exist in the midst of work and family. From this perspective, the government has identified the economic importance and contribution of women and has therefore aimed “to provide a forum for women to gain the knowledge and expertise necessary to grow out and manage their own businesses”.[21] The powerful story of women in business and upward mobility actually started with a dream for freedom from financial and institutional deprivation.

This is the story of women in America.



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