Latest posts by Angela Davis (see all)
Women have been breaking glass ceilings throughout history. They have endured many legal battles, overcome financial barriers and have helped shape the current business culture in America. Statistically, the number of women as business owners in America has grown greatly.
So why does it seem as though they are still fighting for a seat at the table? Still struggling to be equal?
While we find more and more women have gained high levels of position in America, our land of the free, home of the brave, but was just not brave enough to elect women to the highest
office in the land. Was this by happenstance? Or does history have a way of repeating itself?
The women of America have ensured our financial fibers remained intact thru costly wars and catastrophic financial crises. When women were not able to vote, run for public offices, enter into contracts or own land, they were still making contributions to big business. For example, during the Great Depression and thru World War II, it was women who kept the textile, steel and agricultural industries alive.
Even while discrimination and poverty reigned, many women forged ahead, despite old and new rules to hinder their progress, they organized, created and owned businesses (some in secret).
Born into a life of slavery (1818), Bridget Mason (nicknamed ‘Biddy”) grew up to become successful in real estate after suing her slave owners for her freedom in the 1850’s after moving to the free state of California. A decade later, Mason made a small investment into a piece of commercial property which by 1884 turned into a small empire. She became one of the first black women to own land.
This took courage, tenacity, desire, and patience, all qualities of great business owners and leaders. Between the 1880s and 1920s, we witnessed a large growth in the participation of women in business as both entrepreneurs and workers.
Some women went into management by creating their own companies like Madame C. J. Walker and Estee Lauder who established successful cosmetics companies which created beauty products for black and white women. This paved the way for female entrepreneurs like Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey.
So women are resourceful. Right? Women are strong, women are wise. Women are great! So why are women still being paid less than men to perform the same work? Why are women still
struggling to be considered equal?
Perhaps, gender perception roles are still a mainstay in the fabric of our country. Research shows that women are better stewards over financial and money matters yet there are very few women occupying senior level positions for any of the world’s global banks? According to a study in the Journal of Business Ethics dated October 2015, a group of Finland researchers found that U.S. banks with women CEOs or chairpersons had more conservative capital levels and were less likely to fail during the financial crisis than banks run by men.
As money managers, women are not as over confident as their male counterparts. Study show overconfidence can allow for an overconcentration in a particular position thus holding that position for an extended period of time without reevaluating profits that might be left on the table.
This can result in a faster death of security than market volatility or quickly selling items off. Therefore, a woman’s level of confidence tends to suit consumers in the marketplace more favorably. The level of confidence displayed by women money managers also tends to make them more pessimistic about risk.
Studies have also shown that being pessimistic about risk can help raise returns and combat against loss which overall can help make markets safer. Yet there a fewer women money managers and CEOs than men.
Women will continue to be groundbreakers, innovators, teachers, motivators and entrepreneurs while still earning less and having less support in the business world than their male counterparts. While the highest glass ceiling remains to be broken for women, they aren’t giving up!
Is the struggle real? It certainly is but women are resilient and they won’t continue to be denied.