Why Women Entrepreneurs MUST Care About Women's History Month
March is Women's History Month. March 8, 2012 is International Women's Day. .....and before you say, "Who cares?" (and I know that many of you out there feel this way as you've emailed me, I've read your blogs and you've told me to my face)
Let me tell you why you should....
The history of women in America is a story rarely told, even in schools, as American heroes are seen as those that fought for and drafted the Constitution and women were not welcomed in these roles. Yet, if you read through the story lines you'll realize that while men were securing freedom women were engaged in all the other tasks required for building a new future: farming, educating, feeding, nursing, nurturing and often, yes, even selling.
They weren't called women entrepreneurs, but many women would be considered quite industrious (entrepreneurial) by today's standards. What is most important, however, and what needs to be appreciated by this generation of women entrepreneurs, is the long, hard, fight for women's choice that centuries of women struggled to achieve.
I use the word "choice" meaning women's right to decide how we pursue our life, liberty and happiness promised to men in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. You see it wouldn't be until 1833 that women were allowed to attend college; not until 1950 that they would be accepted into Harvard Law School; not until 1920 were allowed to vote; not until 1963 that they were guaranteed equal pay for equal work; and not until 1974 that the Equal Credit Act required lenders not to discriminate against any applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status.
Too many women entrepreneurs are unaware that women who started businesses using credit before 1974 could only do so by using their husband's or father's name.
Fast forward to 2012, women entrepreneurs are starting businesses at record numbers and yet research shows they are earning only 55% of their male counterparts; are less likely to (about 3%) to receive venture capital for startup; and losing support in the fight for equal opportunity for government and large corporation contracts.
So, for all you women entrepreneurs who say "it doesn't make a difference whether you call yourself a 'women entrepreneur' or just 'entrepreneur' - THINK AGAIN - it makes a tumultous difference to all future generations of women entrepreneurs. What you accomplish in your business - what best practices you embrace in areas such as work/life balance, benefits, team building, funding and more - will impact and provide a role model for not only the next generation of women to follow, but for the men who look to women as the resource for fairness, justice and independence. Yes, men understand that women bring a sobering equality to the world and given enough time it will change everything for the better.
Women leaders and women's leadership is needed at every level, and in every role, to provide the perspective of 52% of Americans.
Email Vicki@vickidonlan.com to speak at your next women's event.