The new breed of female entrepreneurs as you’ve never seen them before, RUTH MCKAY reports from the Women In Business Debate at the Scottish Parliament.
What do women want?
The modern female entrepreneur isn’t the ball-breaking, thrusting and aggressive business owner we now associate with success. We might not be going for world domination. But our businesses increasingly play a vital part in the economy, providing incomes, employment and contributing to the wider economy and society as a whole.
Last month Professor Lesley Sawers produced a report commissioned by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael – The role and contribution of women in the Scottish economy.
And on the same day, Women In Business and the Federation of Small Businesses held a debate at the Scottish Parliament on how Women Entrepreneurship and women-led businesses could be better supported to encourage growth and success.
Chaired by comedian Susan Morrison and hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, the panel featured Margaret Gibson, chief executive of Women Enterprise Scotland, Pheona Matovu, Director of Radiant & Brighter, Susan Love, Policy Manager of the Federation of Small Business, Ailsa Proverb, founder of Big Cheese Making Kit and Leah Hutcheon director of Appointed.
A varied panel debating many issues – including how to lessen the cultural divide between men and women regarding caring responsibilities of both children and elderly parents, the perception that lifestyle businesses are not taken seriously, and how we can find more female business role models who have also had to juggle children and family life.
Far from burning our bras and ranting about how unfair it all is, what came out loud and clear was that the new breed of female entrepreneurs wants a more balanced, fairer playing field where men can equally share the full maternity leave period and work flexitime without discrimination by employers for doing so.
This would enable them to share childcare responsibilities and the care of elderly parents when it is needed.
The message is this – we refuse to be pigeon holed, patronised or underestimated. We’ll do it our way and not the way others expect us to.