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3 Ways Female Entrepreneurs Can Shatter Stereotypes While Also Empowering Others Women entrepreneurs are constantly battling bias and stereotypes. Here's how they can rise above the noise and empower others.

By Kelly Hyman Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • A stereotype of women entrepreneurs is that they are less competitive and action-oriented than men — is that true?
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gender bias in the workplace is nothing new, so it's no surprise it would infiltrate the entrepreneur world. Women are held under a societal microscope far more than men, who automatically seem to fit into the world of building and running their businesses.

Fortunately, the world is shifting, and the rise of women entrepreneurs has started to shine a light on how achieving success doesn't have to look the same for everyone. Despite the stereotypes women entrepreneurs face daily, there are ways to overcome them and empower others to lift everyone to the next level.

Related: The Growing Influence of Women Entrepreneurs

Stereotype #1: Lack of business acumen

The idea that a man has more business sense and a woman is better suited for domestic affairs is a stereotype passed down from generation to generation. But as we evolve in the modern world, knowing better is doing better.

Rather than having to choose an either/or scenario, women can choose to take care of their home and also have the business acumen to be successful entrepreneurs. The argument could be made that the attention to detail, organization and time management from at-home matters contribute to the foundation of what's needed to start a business from nothing and make it into a profitable something.

Regardless, women can follow their blueprint. For many, their priorities are divided between work and family. Whereas men more commonly have tunnel vision about their careers. A work-life balance drives a person to be more organized and operationally sound. Time, money and resources are handled with care, and when those pieces are in place, the business becomes more streamlined and profitable.

Stereotype #2: Less competitive and action-oriented

Women are often seen as more passive than men; therefore, they are not looked upon to make big decisions. When the truth is, women are often more thoughtful in their decisions before taking action, which avoids future setbacks and failures.

Additionally, women are often pitted against each other for bigger roles or higher salaries. Therefore, the preconceived notion of competition turns negative rather than positive. Whereas, for men, the idea of a competitive spirit is aligned with a more fun approach with a friendly nod to "may the best man win."

And to expand on stereotypes, the "good ol' boys" network is more about who you know versus what you're capable of doing. However, women are rooted in community and sharing opportunities with others. A lack of competitive behavior shouldn't be confused with a lack of ambition. By expanding their network to share ideas and inspiration with others, more doors naturally open and a sense of purpose can be found.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs can Overcome Challenges and Succeed

Stereotype #3: Self-limiting behavior

While there's research that shows men are more likely to overinflate their capabilities. In contrast, women are prone to do the opposite. It's easy to place the stereotype of "self-limiting behavior" as a way to insist women are keeping themselves from succeeding. Yet, the national pay gap average shows women are paid 83.7% of what men are paid. This needs to change.

One of the leading causes is that women's labor is undervalued. Women also continue to be in a position where their legal rights and opportunities simply don't equal that of a man. If there is self-limited behavior, it's due to how women have been limited for years. From pay gap discrepancies to voting rights to not having a seat at the most important of tables, the way to surpass this and all other stereotypes is first to have equal rights.

Related: How We Can Rise Above Unconscious Gender Bias

Overcoming stereotypes as a woman entrepreneur is ongoing, but the "soft skills" we are known for can be used to drive business. What was previously perceived as secondary has become essential to long-term success. The ability to listen and communicate well is equally important and can help women shatter stereotypes and empower others at the same time by:

1. Listening and empathizing with others

The ability to listen is truly valuable and one that's often overlooked. It allows us to understand what others need. From a personal viewpoint, it helps to form better connections and stronger relationships. And on the business side, it makes whatever services or products you're offering your audience become a better fit.

If you're aggressively pushing your agenda all the time, where is there space to get feedback on what's working and what's not? As an entrepreneur, seeing the problems or opportunities can be difficult when you're in the thick of things. Empower others to share their ideas and opinions as part of a quality assurance measure and be open to where changes can be made.

2. Providing mentorship

Mentorship can be sorely lacking in female leaders, and it doesn't have to be that way. As an entrepreneur, there are lessons learned along the way that you might've wished you had someone to guide you on, to help make the path easier. In the spirit of camaraderie, helping others succeed only widens the path for women in business. And it encourages mentees to pass on their knowledge to others when they reach the same status.

Related: What Meaningful Mentorship For Women Employees Should Look Like

3. Sharing success stories

Nothing is more motivating than seeing someone overcome the biggest obstacle and succeed. Lift the accomplishments of those around you of women you admire. This helps others feel encouraged to keep going and does nothing to take away from your efforts.

Rather than allow stereotypes to tell the story, women can empower themselves and others to rise to the top and define their own narratives.

Kelly Hyman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

TV legal analyst and Attorney

Kelly Hyman has been called "a modern day Erin Brockovich" by Forbes. Hyman has appeared numerous times on Law & Crime, Court TV and Fox@night. She is a TV legal analyst and democratic political commentator, and as an attorney, Hyman focuses on class actions and mass tort litigation.

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