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In business, the odds are African women

04.10.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Competitive, unnervingly ruthless, aggressive: the attributes of many successful African men entrepreneurs although women are counted and part of this equation the picture perpetually paints them as alpha-male.
There is nothing wrong with gaining attributes to power the success of a business, but when it becomes socially forced it engenders the sustainability of a business – and the status of the owner especially when it is an African woman.

Women in business endure immense pressure to succeed mostly in the male-dominated field. Many of these women have to beat themselves to conform to a man’s standards of whom a business partner – or competitor- should be or else they face the consequences. One of these consequences is the tendency to be lied to by male partners. In a study conducted by UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, circa 2014, 24% of men admitted lying to female participants during business negotiations. This stems from the perception that women are gullible and so would believe anything said to them during a negotiation. The warmer a woman’s personality appears, the higher the expectation that she will believe any lie told her. Disturbing as the findings of this study may seem, it lends credence to the tendency for women to feel pressured to ditch the warm personality they are famous for and to put on the harsh personality that makes the ‘man’ in ‘woman’ most prominent.

Traditional business ventures such as agriculture, domestic services (cleaning jobs) and others, which seem to center on domestic life are dominated by women, most of whom do not own these enterprises. However, in recent years, there is evidence of more women making a paradigmatic move to major economic sectors such as banking and finance, exports, real estate, and others. One problem is that although they make up a significant part of the workforce in the business world, only about 10% of businesses are women-owned especially in Africa  http://www.afdb.org

The inconsistency inequity of business ownership can largely be attributed to general inadequacy when it comes to funding opportunities beneficial to women since many existing financial institutions least serve women who are bold enough to present a business plan or proposal for capital. Aside from this demoralizing discrimination, one immediately sees the need for a woman to avoid all warmness and don ruthlessness in the world of business. But women are faced worse than changing their personality to create business success: they are inadvertently required to work twice as hard as men especially when it comes to getting finance from institutions. They are required to have strong teams and exceptionally viable business plans that promise billions – of whatever currencies in which they operate – as eventual turnovers.

It will not be surprising if these conditions come with a strictly barring timeline of profit making as compared to the men. Therefore, not only do women in business have to become clones of men but they need to perfect the art of being something they have no idea about and become the best at it, while furnishing the expectation to be ‘themselves’ which is feminine and pretty or they run the risk of being called unkind things.

More alarming is the phenomenon where many women are tricked into feeling guilty but feel trapped in the silence of not being able to express it. Many women in business nurse guilt for not being there for their families or for focusing on their families to the detriment of their businesses. The balance is elusive. This is normally due to the perception that a woman with a family pitches herself up for failure because she may not be fully focused as she needs to get her start-up off the ground. Therefore, while they are devoted to working extra hard as is exigent to get their businesses in great shape, they worry that they may not be fulfilling the role of a good mother and/or wife; something of which the men in business are mostly spared.

Typically, women are unfairly forced to choose between their families and their jobs; whichever one wins will define the woman as a failure in her other role regardless. It is a dead-end that sucks all hope of choice, especially for the African woman. Meanwhile, single women are not spared the stereotype. They are majorly identified more as single than as successful businesswomen. Their need to be ‘men’ in their chosen fields of business is rather held as an attribute that drives real men far from them than as a strategy to succeed in business. They simply can never win! As mentioned early on, it is very much entangling for women in business to be men and be the best at it. Inappropriately, their endeavor wins them peanuts.

While the actual men take home their cheque of gold, the hard work of many women is greeted by the world with a bag of peanuts. The value of their efforts and productive actions are valued at about 20% less than that of the actual men. In truth, men in business are expected to be given more while women in business can only hope to be given more. Against all odds of hope, but with women in business, the odds are always complicated.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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