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Five Challenges That Women Entrepreneurs Face in India The professional world mirrors the personal life of an Indian woman, as the cloak of inequality and prejudice still falls heavy on her shoulders

By Priyanka Bhatt

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The entrepreneurial journey has its unfair share of unwanted hindrances which may be political, socially, economically, or even sexually demeaning. However, it is in the intrinsic nature of a woman to endure and times are such that endurance can be transformed to empowerment as each barrier is broken bit by bit.

Patriarchy – The constant battle with male chauvinism still remains an apparent concern in Indian society. The male ego has been fed on the dinner table since infancy and has continued to be fed on conference tables today. There still exists a mental wall of inequality when a harmonic and respectable relationship can benefit everyone. Women are scrutinized for practically everything ranging from their leadership traits to their physical attire. It would be ignorant to reveal that men fall prey to this condescension as well, but the imbalance in the ratio represents the constant attempt at strapping the wings of the dove.

Pay Parity –Gender indeed has been an important parameter in determining wages in our country. The figures are daunting as there exists a gender pay parity of 20per cent today. In addition, there's still inconsistency in pay grades despite women attaining senior positions in the business world. The latest monster salary index revealed that though the salary gap has narrowed by nearly 5per cent in the last two years, it continues to widen as one gain in work experience.

Perceptions of Inefficiency –Women are known to have a lot on their plates with homemaking and parenthood leaving no room for business. Hence, this leads to the unfair perception that all these roles lead to inefficiency in the workplace. In addition, their male counterparts opine that women are ineligible to conduct business after giving birth. However, the modern woman continues to rise above these kinds of misperceptions disproving male condemnation.

Limited Investor Funding – Investors have a lack of confidence in women, especially mothers. They feel that mothers would be inadequate in running businesses as their focus and attention will divert to their personal lives rather than their professional one. Another misconception occurs when investors presume that women have the inadequate technical knowledge or business aptitude. The truth is that the investment gap is extremely wide. A BCG report recently revealed that investments in women-led startups averaged nearly $1 million, less than half of the average $2.1 million invested on their male counterparts. However, despite the disparity in investments, women have generated 78 cents on every dollar of funding, while men have generated merely 31 cents per dollar – less than half of what women have achieved.

The Juggle – Though there are preconceived notions that women constantly disprove regarding their work-life balance, it doesn't mean that it is a walk in the park. It is indeed a paramount challenge to continue juggling so many aspects where even a slight misbalance can be detrimental. This requires immense qualities of focus and management to handle the two-way responsibility. Even as their male counterparts may afford some rest at home, women may have an entirely different definition of rest.

One can say that women have habituated themselves to don thick skins with the perseverance to constantly swim in boiling waters. Women-entrepreneurs thus exemplify endurance, empowerment, and courage in the face of all these challenges; bravely traversing on the highway to redemption – of their human right to equality.

Priyanka Bhatt

CEO & Founder Equations PR & Media

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