The fight for women to be taken seriously isn’t over

Célibataire's Amy Ramage says you have to make friends with failure if you want things to get better

Founding and scaling a business is challenging, but in this day and age, there are still a number of gender bias barriers that exist that continue to make it more difficult for women. We are seeing progress. In 2021, some 140,000 companies in the UK were led by all-female teams. We can proudly add Célibataire to that stat — and be part of this continued growth.

However, compared to men’s ventures, it still pales.

Globally, men outnumber women 3-1 in business ownership. And since the world gender ratio is roughly equal, this cannot accurately reflect women’s abilities.

The fight to be taken seriously isn’t over

Women founders still struggle more than men to raise capital. According to analysis from Pitchbook, in Europe, they have secured a mere 1.3% of all venture capital funding available since 2017.

The problem is that most investors are men. Female decision-makers represent around 10% of the venture capital industry. In many cases, that small number of female investors are fighting fiercely to be taken seriously, just as the female founders they want to support. The same is true inside organisations. Sifted research (using data from figures) exposes just how wildly under-represented women are in UK-based C-Suite roles.

In both cases, by not having women in key decision-making roles, we perpetuate the archaic idea that women are still second place in a man’s world. What’s more dangerous and damaging is how this impacts women in the workplace. To take the example of female investors, if we’re all fighting the same constraint — fighting to prove our legitimacy — we’re also all probably maintaining the same aversion to risk.

This creates a vicious cycle in which women investors take fewer risks, particularly regarding investment in female founders. And as a result, it reaffirms the feeling that women are second-best. This translates not only into how men treat women, but in how women treat themselves.

Your own worst enemy?

Recent research proves unconscious bias is still prevalent even in women dominated industries. According to this study, women are still mindful when expressing authority and downplaying their accomplishments. In addition, they claimed they were not acknowledged for their contributions and were constantly interrupted by men. And they were forced to limit their aspirations due to personal obligations — their workplace did not support combining work with family.

It’s apparent that although there are many efforts to address this today, these biases still exist. And these internalised biases are closely linked with Imposter Syndrome — when people believe they are committing intellectual fraud despite all evidence to the contrary.

Likely because of this unconscious bias, impostorism is more prevalent among women. And the numbers prove this — nearly two-thirds (60%) of women have considered starting their own business but haven’t due to feelings of imposter syndrome.

I can relate to this. I founded Célibataire earlier this year, and even coming off the back of being a founder previously I felt self-doubt and fear about the agency not achieving what I knew it could. Naturally, you question what you’re capable of and are afraid to leave the familiar.

You ask, will my creative vision work? Will others buy into this too? I have over 18 years of experience in this industry. I’m no amateur — I know what works. But, unfortunately, rationality doesn’t play into it. If it did, that 60% mentioned above would likely feel empowered and confident to start their own business too.

So, what’s the answer?

If you’re feeling the same way I did, I advise you not to play it safe. As brave as it was, starting Célibataire was one of the most empowering things I’ve done. You have to make friends with failure. Once you stop fearing it, everything becomes easier.

Secondly, cultivate a support system. Develop a network that gives you a safe space to remind you that you are not alone. Talking about topics such as imposter syndrome will help us overcome it and remind us of our value.

And in general, speaking out cannot be underestimated. We must continue raising these issues wherever we can to create solutions to a history of very tough questions on how to be a woman in business.

Featured image: energepic / Pexels

Amy Ramage

Amy founded hybrid design studio Célibataire in 2022, with the mission of making the web a more beautiful and intuitive place. She has 20 years' experience crafting transformational brand experiences - that drive business growth and success - for the world's most ambitious brands.Incredibly conscious of the way Célibataire does business, Amy believes in operating ethically and sustainably - for people and the planet. She is passionate about working with and empowering women-owned brands and businesses. And prides herself in building long-lasting relationships with colleagues, clients, partners and peers.

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