Every day, women across the world struggle with gender inequality in the workplace. In 1972, just a little more than a decade before Elizabeth Christian would take ownership of a Northern California newspaper, women owned only 4.6 percent of all U.S. companies.
Thriving in a Man’s World
In 2007, the latest year for which Census Bureau data is available, women owned 29 percent of all U.S. companies. Given this data, there’s no denying that women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in business, and as our fearless leader knows, leading a successful career takes credibility.
In the early years of her career, Elizabeth was lucky to work for employers who were gender-blind—she became used to having a seat at the table and to making important decisions, and she put effort into keeping it that way.
To cast off any doubts about her credibility, Elizabeth consciously developed good habits—acting older than she was, contributing good ideas, being well read and well informed. As her career progressed, Elizabeth made a point to be gender blind herself.
Opening or managing a small business can be time consuming and stressful, but building a career without sacrificing a family or personal life is completely doable. With a nod to author Sheryl Sandburg, Elizabeth said leaning in to both career and family goes a long way in earning respect from male counterparts and may help your boss become gender blind, too.
“You’re going to spend some years pretty busy—no such thing as a 40-hour week when you’re working and raising children—but those years speed by and the benefit of staying on top of your game will pay off for the rest of your life,” she said.
Elizabeth recommends staying in the workforce, even while your children are young, to keep your skillset sharpened. Whether you’re in the early years of your career or a seasoned professional, striving to become gender blind, whether your employer or co-workers are, will ultimately earn you credibility and respect.
The third and final entry in our Small Business Week blog series will launch this Friday, May 8th.