Female Entrepreneurship as a Path Towards Liberation
This guest blog post is written by Laura Close. Laura is the Founder of the Women's Intelligence Project and lives in Seattle, WA with her husband two tiny hooligan children.
For generations, women have been expected to hold onto the child’s role, the dependent status, even into adulthood.
Girls are exposed to this concept through media and society while growing up and as a result, internalized the idea of women as less capable of leading, deciding, steering the ship so to speak.
Many of my clients (adult women, their staff, friends and partners) describe a lingering feeling of ‘waiting for an adult to show up’ in the area of their life where they feel the most overwhelmed.
This unwelcome socialization, named internalized sexism, can show up differently in each woman’s life. In workshops, I have clients scan for the area of their life that feels the most “hopeless, helpless or unable.” Romance? Debt? Family of origin? The place where you feel the most “unable” to turn the ship around, that’s the spot we’re interested in.
The core of internalized sexism can be described like this:
Remaining, lingering confusion about your worth and your abilities.
The same thing in public looks like this:
Demeaning or diminishing yourself and your work products.
As you might guess, the key to interrupting internalized sexism means taking on the “adult role” -- engaging with our ability to lead and create, in each area of our lives.
If you are a female entrepreneur you may or may not realize this, but you have launched a challenge against the gender socialization all girls are exposed to.
Interestingly, the employer-employee relationship is the business equivalent of the parent-child relationship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an employee. But for the women who feel the urge to create a business, generate profit and become their own boss -- the result can be a breakthrough in self-perception.
Entrepreneurship means removing yourself from the business equivalent of the “child” role and assuming the role of capable adult. For many women, entrepreneurship is a power catalyst, a path towards inner liberation.Entrepreneurship for women is not just a method for earning cash. It’s a behavior that forces you to challenge any confusion about your worth, abilities and power (power definition: the ability to make something happen).
So if you’ve read this far you’ve got the idea -- exploring your power through entrepreneurship is great for undoing internalized sexism work and furthering your ability to know and own your abilities.
Here’s your next challenge (because if you like self-employment, likely you’re up for a good challenge):
From here on out, tell the truth about your power moves.
For female-socialized people, the pull is to couch every action and decision in terms of “service”. And service is great, service makes the world a better place 100% of the time.
However as women we do ourselves and each other a disservice when we cover our black and white power decisions in the language of giving and service. It fuzzes out the lens and we don’t get a clear picture of your decision making, your leadership, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Going transparent about your power moves allows you to step out as a leader and role model. And it allows women coming up behind you to get inspired and learn how a brilliant, flawed, creative female person like you persevered.
That early socialization girls get (that we should maintain a weaker public stance, the eternal dependent role) can cause subtle feelings of danger to arise when we consider being honest and direct about the tough choices we make and our strategies for success.
We’re more likely to hear that a woman entrepreneur created a practice of positivity which resulted in her success than the fact that when her business was failing she personally contacted all of her college friends and asked them to please invite a friend and and built her business with grit and strategy.
At this point in the game, you’ve abandoned the employee role, assumed competent business person status and explored the playing field of profit and wealth accumulation.
Let’s have your thinking and leading be public and known. Light the way and bring us along!