The women in business trend is on the incline, but this isn’t an ideal that’s always been expected. For centuries, women have battled a stereotype that involves staying home to cook, clean and care for the family. With a desire for greater opportunity for equality and overall improved satisfaction with life, women began to enter the workplace and have proven to be widely successful across various industries.
But with this success has come many challenges that have made it even more difficult to pave the way for other women in business.
Traditionally, women have not fared as well as men in the workplace, with most women earning just three-quarters of what their male counterparts make. In reality, that’s only half of the story. For the last 20 years, more women have opted to start their own businesses than ever before, even outpacing men, and they have been thriving. The reality is that women can, and should, have a large presence in the business world.
Women in Business Today
According to a 2015 study by Babson College, businesses that have at least one woman in an executive seat tend to have much higher valuations than companies with all men in C-level positions. In fact, companies with a female executive are worth 64% more at first funding and 49 percent more at last funding than their all-male counterparts. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that the amount of early-stage investing in companies with at least one female executive has been growing over the past 15 years, but there is still room to grow.
More recently, women have made progress in creating a solid foundation for more females to join the workforce. Research gathered by Zippia shows that as of December 2021, women make up 53.4% of the workers in the U.S. Of those individuals:
- 23% are in executive positions
- 29% are in senior management positions
- 37% are in manager positions
- 42% are in professional positions
- 47% are in support staff positions
These statistics alone are enough to get excited about the future for women in business, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Gender equality is a valid factor in business growth success, however, the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report shows that it’ll be more than 100 years before we finally close the gender gap and start paying women closer to their male counterparts.
Gender equality in the workplace involves more than equal pay. It also ensures access to the same treatment, opportunities, access to resources and ability to grow into leadership positions. Christina Carosella, a Forbes council contributor, wrote in a blog post for the financial news provider about her own experiences with gender equality — and what companies can do to close the gap and keep women in business excited to keep pushing:
“Nonprofits can close the gender gap by making equality a strategic objective, just like any other business goal,” Carosella wrote. “Leaders need to create a culture that encourages safe communication so topics like inequality can be discussed honestly. This will make it easier to identify and correct gender inequality throughout the organization. Boards should represent all forms of diversity (especially as it relates to who is served by the nonprofit). Salary offers should be based on the job, not what they made in their last position; since women are typically paid less than men, this should help to balance previous pay inequalities.”
Why More Women in Business is Better
One big advantage women offer the business world and management, in particular, is that they have different sets of life and work experiences than men do and thus different perspectives. Their skills are unique as well. This leads to different opinions, different preferences and different strategies.
In many ways, women in society are seen as natural caregivers or nurturers. Beyond the ability to carry during the gestational period, give birth and raise that child throughout its adolescence, research shows that women excel in a variety of skills that are necessary in the workplace. Skills and qualities like task management, communication, patience and empathy are vital to succeed in a work environment, and women tend to excel in encouraging others to talk through problems, stay organized, remain patient and be understanding.
By bringing more women into the workplace, there’s an opportunity to prioritize diversity and encourage male and female collaboration. In turn, this diversity allows decision-making to become more multidimensional and thus more comprehensive. Boards with at least one female member tend to take longer to green-light acquisitions than all-male boards. This is because women tend to be more risk-averse and strategic than men. While this tendency may lead to smaller and/or fewer acquisitions, it also allows for more careful and more informed decisions.
How Times Are Changing
The trend for women in business is growing. It’s fueled by women determined to “lean in” and get into the big business game, millennials looking to define their own career paths, and many others who are more entrepreneurial in nature. With access to technology and personal digital devices, girls across the globe are more inspired to share their passions at a young age than ever before. Accessibility and awareness are making it easier than ever for women to get involved in the business world, and it’s only expected to continue in this direction.
Women currently exploring the world of business are being exposed to opportunities that haven’t always existed in the past. Mentorship programs are helping pull women up, further than ever before. At the same time, women are pulling together and creating their own networking, conferences and meet-ups — but they still have a way to go. Women looking to start businesses or expand existing ones have less opportunity for funding, and overall they make less than men, even if they have the same title and education.
How Education Can Empower Women
Women must be considered seriously in business, be it as executives or entrepreneurs. They can bring different perspectives to the proverbial table and tend to be more strategic. This tendency may make them more risk-averse in acquisitions, but it also leads to greater success from a valuation standpoint in the startup phase, when more calculated moves have the biggest impact. It will take time to achieve workplace equality, but women in business is a trend that can and should be growing.
In the meantime, women can explore different opportunities that can help them stand out in the workforce, whether it’s at a networking event or on the spot at a new job. One simple way to get prepared for a more important role in the business world is by getting a master’s degree in business.
The Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham can help women and men alike improve their skills, become more comfortable with their area of expertise and climb the executive ladder without pausing their current career.
This online master’s in business program is designed to help you become well-versed in one of the following concentrations:
- Business administration
- Management information systems
Because the program is 100% online, you can continue to pursue your current career while you weave your coursework into your schedule. This flexibility makes it simple to achieve your goals and move on to the next journey in your professional life.
Are you ready to take the next step? For more information on how to advance your career, please visit our Online MBA degree program.