I recently attended an event marking Women Entrepreneurship Day. The event was inaugurated by a Minister from the Government of Karnataka, who very succinctly shared everything the Government is doing to support women entrepreneurs. His audience being primarily women, he began his address by talking about his mother – a woman with no formal education, who sacrificed her everything to ensure her children got everything that she could not. Clearly, he held his mother in high esteem and respected her nobility and sacrifice. The emotion was so genuine, he was able to instantly connect with the audience of educated, urban women entrepreneurs.

As I reflected on the event a few days later, I thought to myself how, in an event for Women Entrepreneurs, the image of an ideal woman that came to him was someone sacrificial, nurturing, who gave her all for her family. While this is a state every mother would aspire to reach, these are not necessarily the best attributes for an entrepreneur!

During the session, one young entrepreneur who works in the construction industry got up and spoke about the challenges she faces in working with very fixed mindsets on what women can and cannot do. One of her challenges was that she simply was not taken as a serious contender in business.

Could it be that the difficulties that young entrepreneur was facing comes from the established image of the ideal woman as a nurturer and giver, rather than someone competitive, out to  grow her business?

There are, likely, many men in power for whom the “woman as nurturer” is an ideal. Being an entrepreneur, man or women, requires you to put aside your nurturing self and take tough business decisions.  And this is one disconnect that women entrepreneurs will face everyday.


17 Comments

Indu Ramesh · December 1, 2017 at 11:27 am

Very good. I will for wait some young women to react to your blog before I, the ancient person say anything

    Aparna Devagiri · December 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks!

Sanjay · December 1, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Lovely Blog Aparna – As I have always said Women are Natural Entrepreneurs

Pushpa · December 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Well written Aparna. Women need not have to move away completely from nurturing to take tough decisions.

    Aparna Devagiri · December 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Quite right, and they shouldn’t. The ability to balance both is what makes them tick, no?

Jyothi Unikkat · December 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Good article Aparna! Entrepreneurship & nurturing can go hand in hand! Many a venture is born because an entrepreneur felt another’s pain. The minister’s mother perhaps had a strong entrepreneurial quality- the tenacity to persist through difficulties 😊

    Aparna Devagiri · December 3, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks Jyothi!

Ram Viswanathan · December 3, 2017 at 8:39 am

Interesting thoughts. I suppose, while the entrepreneur, man or woman, needs to take tough decisions to develop the business in the first 1000 days, as a business owner & a leader, the nurturing quality will certainly help motivate the team as the business grows

    Aparna Devagiri · December 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Quite right, Ram. Thanks for your thoughts. It is also about accepting women in a role that is different from what is idealized in our heads, I guess.

Venky Viswanathan · December 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

We are all guilty of unconscious bias. (Unconscious bias include situations where our background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can impact our decisions and actions without us realising).

In its most obvious of manifestation, unconscious bias is the essence of the gender equality debate.

Exposing our unconscious bias is extremely complex. For a start, we have to be open to the idea that we are biased, but then what does “unconscious bias” look like? Would you know it if you saw it? Would you know it if you had it?

When we start to be more self-aware and bring these biases to greater awareness, we are better able to create more inclusive cultures. It is onerous but we have to begin albeit with baby steps!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPEZUuYYmY4
https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Struggling-to-Be-Heard-How-Women-Can-Overcome-Bias?gko=92835

    Aparna Devagiri · December 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Quite right, and thanks for the links!

Ajay · December 7, 2017 at 7:38 am

There is so much more to women that can make them good entrepreneurs and professionals. Mindset’s have to and will evolve.

    Aparna Devagiri · December 19, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Thanks Ajay! We do have a long way to go.

Krishnaprasad N · December 7, 2017 at 10:30 am

You have captured a very nice comment… house wife’s were the first entrepreneur s and they were so underrated….good start AD

Sanjeev Kumar · December 18, 2017 at 11:48 am

Change in thought process for many will take time. In my view, the cultural aspect has a big role to play in this. The present stories of success have started leaving their impact, the process is slow but steady. Good Luck Aparna.

Ashakiran Naidu · December 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Nice blog Aparna. Sad, but it is a fact that women in all sectors today only ask for “equal opportunity” to prove themselves. More often than not, I am the only women leader in leadership meetings and though there is acceptance, I can feel need to give in more efforts to be taken seriously ! There is a bias which is apparent and I will strive to keep up while encouraging young women to do so….

    Aparna Devagiri · December 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks Asha.
    Yes, we are all biased in one way or another. I guess more self awareness for everyone would be something to aim for.

Comments are closed.