Did you know that, currently, there are more CEOs named “John” than all women CEOs combined? But fear not! There is hope on the horizon. Texas has recently been named the best state for women entrepreneurs based on several scoring categories. All your exes live in Texas, and they might be entrepreneurs!
When I first saw the rankings, I expected to see New York and California at the top of the list, yet neither of those states was even in the top three! So, how did our great Lone Star State receive the number one spot? The rankings were measured by the following factors: general business climate, opportunity for women in business, economic and financial health, and livability for women. Not only did Texas score the highest average on these factors, but thanks to Texas’ generally low cost of living, paired up with exponential startup growth, Texas beat out New York and California (Focus). Additionally, Texas has a progressive political climate in its capital and no corporate income tax.
While this is great news, it also opens the conversation of how we can improve the climate for women in business even more. Women in business, whether they live in Texas or Maine still face challenges. For instance, did you know that on average, women receive 45% less capital than men when applying for business loans? (fitsmallbusiness.com) Consider this, of all the investing decisions from venture capitalist firms, 94% of these decisions were made by men- one of whom probably is named John. So, while the business environment for women is improving, we still depend mainly on men to invest in our ideas and pursuits.
Recently, I attended a presentation hosted by Suzi Sosa, co-founder, and CEO of Verb Inc., a leadership software company. In her presentation, Ms. Sosa discussed her struggles as a woman in the business world. She told us when she was looking for funding for her company, her mentor suggested she change her hair, put more makeup on, and dress more “femininely”. She also disclosed that several married men who invested in her company propositioned her romantically afterward. She told us she felt pressured to change the way she looked and acted in order to “fit in” to man’s perception of business. In response to this, Sosa brought to light the fact that women need to help each other out more in order to shift this perception. Sosa described her attempts to find new investors through her female connections in the Austin area, all of whom politely declined for fear it might make them look unprofessional in their respective business circles.
To clarify, I am not writing this as an attack on men, quite the contrary. I am writing this as a call to action to women. The business climate is changing for us, and for the better. However, if we truly want to be on par with men, we need to start by being more confident in our own abilities.
As a junior in college, I have started to notice not only fewer women in my classes but also less participation from them; we don’t ask as many questions and we don’t give our input as much as our male peers do. College should be a healthy environment for women to learn to trust their business guts and to question the status quo. But, whatever the reason might be, we as women are less participative in business classes, which then transfers into the greater business world. While this may sound like a bit of a bummer, the good news is we have the power to change it. It is time that we, as women in business, start speaking up, ask more questions, and learn to trust our guts.
The climate is shifting in our favor, and self-confidence is key. However, self-confidence alone is not enough for us to break through the glass ceiling. It seems that women in business are continually pitted against each rather than encouraged to help one another. If we want to be seen as true equals in the business sphere, we need to invest in each others’ ventures, bring fresh faces into our business circles, and not be afraid to advocate for our own ideas. I’m grateful for Texas and its opportunities for women in business, but there’s always room for improvement and for more women CEOs.
Elena Moeller is currently junior at the St. Edward’s University and Intern of all trades for Proactive Talent in Austin, Texas. Being born and raised in Minnesota I grew up playing hockey, riding snowmobiles, and fishing. One thing you should know about me is that I have never been labeled as shy- I live for getting to know new people and learning new things. This has enabled me to travel the world, become fluent in Spanish, and live in Milan, Italy where I learned a bit of Italian! I find I am happiest at work when I am able to spark my creativity and create something that is useful for our company but is also an entertaining read.