Can entrepreneurship and feminism mix? Well, of course – but how? Whilst Justin Trudeau is causing ripples in the political community by contributing to the conversation on the treatment of feminism today, over here we examine four leading entrepreneurs and self-confessed feminists alike to uncover the powerful impact that female entrepreneurship can have on defying convention and advancing our societal value.
This article is not intended as a how-to guide for women but rather an addition to the ongoing conversation of gender injustices and the emergent role of female entrepreneurship in challenging history.
Petra M. Wetzel – founder, WEST Brewery
The founder of WEST Brewery, Glasgow, has shared her experience of motherhood and starting an innovative business. For Petra, becoming a (single) mother occurred at the same time that her now booming brewery took off in 2006. Against all the odds, this woman stands testament to the notion that juggling an entrepreneurial career whilst raising a child (again, emphasis on the phrase single mother here) is possible.
Expressing her views on untangling traditional norms of women as homemakers, Wetzel states that “a woman should never have to sacrifice the opportunity to start a family in order to follow a dream of starting a business.”
Furthermore, structural and political change is a core requirement to accommodate the working woman who can have a family and a career – embodied in Wetzel’s suggestion that “affordable and accessible childcare would make all the difference to female entrepreneurs.”
Quotes extracted from Vision Scotland (Spring 2016, p.5). Read the full article here.
Susanne Bier – Film Director
Academy Award-winning film director and visionary who brought to life the recent BBC mini-series The Night Manager, Susanne Bier extends the conversation surrounding motherhood and a career, suggesting that despite the availability of state-funded childcare in her native Denmark, there should be an embracement of the non-conventional work patterns for women who, like herself, work in an industry outside of the 9-5 doctrine.
Upon becoming pregnant one year after finishing her film school studies, Bier was told by a producer that this decision was “the worst thing [she] could think of doing”. To which Bier responded, “Too bad, I’m going to make it work”. If the Academy Award could represent anything other than Bier’s success with In A Better World, it would be a hit between the eyes for this producer.
Quotes extracted from an interview featured in Raising Film (25.05.15).
Lauren Mayberry – Musician
As the outspoken frontwoman of the Scottish band Chvrches, Mayberry represents the embodiment of the new type of young female role model – calling out hecklers on stage, founding one of the most impressive global female collectives, TYCI – who is not afraid to show off her femininity with flair and sass.
In 2015, the singer wrote a short article for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter about her experience of emerging out of an abusive relationship, which you can read here.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Author & Academic
The Nigerian-born author and academic, Adichie embodies strength and resilience, speaking succinctly and passionately about defying convention and challenging traditional gender roles which are sadly prevalent in society – in her experience, in her home country of Nigeria.
In her TEDxEuston talk, Adichie deftly challenges systematic failures which today hold women back, demonstrating the prevalence of the patriarchal male (gaze). Speaking of how we could act in the face of gender inequality, Adichie states “gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.” Hear, hear.
Become An Agent of Change
Having rounded together these four women, each of whom work in different industries, how can we further explore the relationship between feminism and entrepreneurship and go on to action change?
The solution is to keep the conversation going as agents of change in whatever our circumstances may be. Pass the knowledge on to people who need an awakening – and to those who already have been awakened. Using our agency to cause this small change, to create ripples, is the best method. Here is a simple formula to remember:
Read –> share –> listen –> discuss –> act
That’s all you need to get started and to continue – communication. With added determination. As demonstrated by these women, embodying feminism and managing a career requires a foundation of drive and determination, but the platform to share the strength grows with each small step to embody advocacy and ingenuity.
The key message for women getting ahead is to challenge the sacrifice in considering motherhood whilst managing an entrepreneurial career. Take heart from the spirits of these women and go forth into challenging traditional norms for a better society for both men & women. Small change will eventually push policies.
Hana Dickinson writes about her experience of juggling her career with motherhood.
Watch a clip of the Sen Wendy Davis filibuster taking us back to 2013 in which the Senator blocks the passage of an anti-abortion bill in Texas and who continues to fight for women’s rights to this day.
Become a member of the Female Entrepreneur Association, an international network open to all women looking to get ahead.
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