Women in business world: Shining despite challenges 

Reem Hosam El-din
6 Min Read

When we think of the business field, usually our minds wander to a man’s world, with suits, meetings, and firms led by major businessmen. This is partially the result of the unrealistic underrepresentation of women in the media when it comes to the business sector. A report by The Global Media Monitoring Project from 2015 showed that when the focus is the economy, only 5% of the news stories feature or focus on women. Additionally, in 2015, only 26% of the total business news coverage in the media, (including newspapers, radio, and television) featured women. On the internet, the case is not much different, as only 24% of news stories and tweets about the business sector and the economy included women.

However, this is clearly changing as women are increasingly wielding more power in the business sector and as they continue to take over leadership positions in the largest companies in the world, and not only are they founding more businesses than ever before, but they also seem to be doing this at twice the rate of men.

According to The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2014 report, about 200 million women globally have started businesses, and by 2022, forecasts expect about 1 billion women to be ready to enter the mainstream economy as employers, producers, and entrepreneurs. Interestingly, companies with women executives at the helm are more likely to perform better than companies led by men, according to the findings of a recent study. It found that women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 list bring in three times the returns made by men-led companies, Fortune reported.

Quantopian, a Boston-based trading platform based on crowdsourced algorithms, pitted the performance of Fortune 1000 companies that had women CEOs between 2002 and 2014 against the S&P 500’s performance during that same period. The comparison showed that the 80 women CEOs during those 12 years produced equity returns 226% better than the S&P 500,” Fortune said.

There are many theories on why the business results of women-led companies have achieved dramatically higher results compared to the male-led ones, but the majority of these theories think the reason is that women have to work extra hard to become CEOs at such big companies in the first place, generally enhancing and further pushing the level of the companies they are working at.

In the sector of entrepreneurship, the challenges women face remain not much different, as according to Entrepreneur online magazine, a survey carried out on male and female entrepreneurs in 2017 showed that male entrepreneurs were twice as likely to raise $100,000 or more in funding for their startups than their female peers.

The survey also showed that as a result, women entrepreneurs (68%) are more likely than their male peers (48%) to run their businesses from their homes.

With their hard work, however, women were able to occupy large and challenging positions in large companies, and some of these women were on the list of Forbes for the world’s 20 most powerful women in business.

Number one on the list was Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook. Noteworthy, in 2012, Sandberg was named in the Time 100 annual list of the most influential people in the world, according to Time Magazine.

Second on Forbes’ list was Indra Nooyi, the CEO and chairperson of PepsiCo. Third on the list was Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO and chairperson of Kraft, then, fourth on the list, came Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, chairperson, president, and CEO of IBM. “In October 2011 she was appointed as CEO of IBM, becoming the first woman ever to lead the century-old tech giant with more than $100bn in revenues,” Forbes said.

Fifth on the list was Ursula Burns, the chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation. Then Meg Whitman came sixth. She is the former eBay chief and new CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the American multinational information technology company. Seventh on the list was Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, the CEO of the Brazilian oil company Petrobas, which produces 91% of Brazil’s oil and 90% of its natural gas. Then came Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, then Anne Sweeny, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, then in 10th place came Angela Braly, the CEO of WellPoint since 2007, the second largest health insurer in the US.

The list goes on, featuring the names of many prominent women. These women were able to occupy their high positions, proving that the future holds a lot for women in the business world and that all the existing female-led businesses are yet to grow.

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