To analyze the problems faced by many Indian women entrepreneurs to attain a sustainable position in the business world in India and how they are suppressed by the male society. Also, this research will highlight the women entrepreneurs who faced the difficult situations and emerged as successful entrepreneurs by creating a strong identity of their own in the male dominant society of India proving their credentials in the long run.
According to Epstein (2007), classification based on gender is the basic social divide around the world. All over the world role of women is regarded as lower than that of men. Due to this gender division role of women in decision making and other highly rewarded jobs or tasks is limited. In the past economic period, many economists thought of women of being a subject to the authority of men. However, whenever provided with the right opportunity, women never hesitated to come in front and join the labor force either by working as elite professionals or doing the manual craftworks.
But still in many developing economies, particularly in India, women are still considered as a mere commodity rather than treated as equals amongst all.
Therefore, the problem which I want to highlight is the challenges which Indian women have to face while working in the male-dominant society and how they are trying to overcome such problems to attain a distinct position in the economy.
AIM OF THE STUDY
To identify the problems faced by entrepreneurs (female) in the developing economy (India) and to find out ways to overcome these problems so that Indian women should be able to achieve recognition globally. Also, the aim of this research is to find out the steps taken by Indian government and various private organizations to resolve this problem particularly in context with India.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1. To identify the issues faced by women in the business world.
2. To bring into light the steps initiated by the government and various non-government organizations to help women entrepreneurs.
3. To highlight the achievements of various successful women entrepreneurs who survived these problems and emerged as winners.
REASON FOR SELECTING THE TOPIC
The role of women in our society is often neglected. They are considered to be subordinate to men and their role is confined to house hold chores. Being in the 21st century, where the world has developed rapidly, this sub ordination of women hampers the society. Therefore, being a woman myself, I want to highlight the issues which are faced by the women in the corporate world and the achievements attained by them to prove that we are no less than men. This is precisely the main reason for selection of this topic for my dissertation.
INITIAL REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Entrepreneurs are the individuals who manage to establish a business enterprise, industry or a shop of their own. They are the “self-starters” and “doers of a business”. Entrepreneurship is referred as the foundation of economic development.
Female entrepreneurs in India are the women who contribute towards the economic development of the country by breaking the so called norms of the gender based society and surviving the hardships and trials to achieve success. Women have a productive role in the development of the Indian economy. Therefore, they should be provided with the equal opportunity and should not be suppressed by the male counterparts. (Rani, 1996)
2. Status of Women in the Past
In the historical period, women in the Indian society did not have equality with the men, although they were awarded the status of the goddess. The roots of this discrimination go back to the ancient times where the women were considered to be confined to domestic chores. According to a great Hindu writer, “be a young girl, be a young woman or even be an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her house”. Hence, this type of thinking still prevails in the Indian society. Due to this there is a wide disparity in the literacy level of the males and females. As a result of this gender discrimination women are suppressed and are not allowed to come forward in various sectors.
To overcome this problem, steps have been initiated by several government and non-government organizations. Many companies in India are planning to arrange flexible working hours for women, allowing them to work near their partner’s workplace. Various organizations such as Pepsi, ICICI bank consider that women managers have their own distinctive style and attitude, which helps in increasing the profitability of the organization.
However, women are still not accepted in many higher-ranked jobs because it is presumed that certain jobs are meant to be handled by men. Therefore, women are not encouraged to take the jobs which involve lot of travelling, living away from their homes or working till late in the night. This type of segregation hampers the career progression of the females in the Indian society. (Benson, 2006)
3. Present Scenario of Women Entrepreneurs
Koshal et al(1998) states that women entrepreneurship is a recent phenomenon. All over the world only 5% of the total corporate jobs are handled by females. Also, most of the top positions in many organizations are generally occupied by the men and only 2 to 3 percent of these jobs goes in the kitty of women.
Benson(2006) highlights that the number of women entrepreneurs is steadily increasing in the Indian economy. However, the presence of women in management is only 3-5 % in India compared to around 10% globally. The presence of women can be seen mainly ion service sector, HR related jobs and IT Industry. On the contrary their participation in hard-ore jobs such as marketing or production is considerably less.
Women entrepreneurs hold a dignified position in many countries like USA, Holland, Sweden etc. However, in India women comprised of only 16.5% of total work force which is considered to be too low according to the census. The role of women in the business world has come into foreplay after the Tenth plan (2002-2007) of the government which planned on empowering the Indian women as the agents of socio-economic change and development. Women entrepreneurs face a range of problems for establishing and running the business successfully .This includes a number of tribulations such as lack of finance, providing collateral security and finding a right market to sell their goods or services. It has been highlighted in many researches that women make a considerable amount of contribution to the family business. However, their work is always criticized and goes unappreciated. Therefore, women are not able to achieve their goals as they are suppressed by their male counterparts. (Tiwari , 2007)
3.1 Role of women in family business
Mitra(2002) highlights that the role of women in large-family businesses is limited in India. It is analyzed that the Indian family business is based i=on the social system wherein the father is the head of the family and men have complete authority over the women. Thus, the participation of women in the business is not encouraged. The daughters are not allowed to take part in managing the family business. Also, the daughter-in-laws role is confined to manage the children’s upbringing and other house related work. They are given the liberty to set up the small scale business of their own, for example, running boutiques or doing interior decorations etc. However, their earnings are not considered as the part of family earnings rather it is taken merely as a part of indulgence and the male members are usually arrogant toward them. This show that even in today’s world women are not treated as equals in the business world. This article highlights that the possibility of women to succeed as entrepreneurs in large family businesses is considerably less.
3.2 Role of women in Professional world
Furthermore, Mitra (2002) states that the studies conducted on the Indian women have a prime focus on considering women just as workers rather than entrepreneurs. Although, the women are educated and have managed to establish their economic status to some extent but still due to the lack of experience and skills they are not able to manage the work confidently as they lack the exposure to the outside world. It also says that in addition to the suppression by the male society, women are not able to succeed because of their own personal traits such as shyness, lack of leadership qualities, inability to communicate etc. Due to all these reasons, the growth of women as an entrepreneur is limited in the developing economy.
3.3 Types of Women Entrepreneurs in India
The article categorizes the women entrepreneurs into four categories which are:
These are the women who start their career at the early stage that is straight after their college. This helps the women entrepreneurs as by the time they have reached the age of 45, they have considerable experience regarding the business and are able to handle the work more efficiently. This will boost the confidence level of the women entrepreneurs in the long run.
Block- Factor Entrepreneurs
These are the women in the age group of 35-40. Women in this group are the individuals who prefer spending more time at home than at the work place, so, they choose to keep their business at a considerably lower scale. They tend to concentrate more on personal and family related goals. These entrepreneurs face the shortage of resources to commence their business at the initial stage.
These are the women who inherit the family business. However, the business is given the second priority and the family is considered as the first priority for these women. The business is considered as a hobby of self -fulfillment.
Additional Income-Driven Entrepreneurs
This group primarily consists of women for whom additional income is a necessity rather than just a hobby or interest. Women in this category are generally resource poor as they had suffered problems like personal trauma, death, divorce etc. which affects their financial status. These entrepreneurs try to keep their firm running and are ready to take any risks so that they are able to run the enterprise successfully.
4. BARRIERS FACED BY INDIAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Women Entrepreneurs encounter a large number of problems and constraints which hampers the growth of the women entrepreneurs in the Indian economy. Following are the major barriers faced by the women entrepreneurs:
According to Parikh et al(2005) finance is the most important aspect for any business. However, women face many difficulties in acquiring long-term finance as they do not have enough credibility in the market as they are eithr dependent on their father or husband for their finances. Also, they face gender -related issues while procuring finance from various institutions as they do not have the same connections as men. In addition to this, the article states that the Diana project of States in 2003, had around 50%of shareholders as women but less than 5% of those women received any sort of investments from the organizations.
Therefore, it is clear that getting loans and finances from banks and other financial institutions is extremely difficult for female entrepreneurs as they do not possess any property of their own and are generally under estimated by the male counterparts and various companies.
According to Carter et al (2001) women entrepreneurs experience many obstacles, which include traditional cultural barriers. They are treated differently and the level of their education, ethnicity and position given to them also varies largely than men. Women in India are confined to household activities and their involvement at workplace is also limited. In our society, the male child is given more priority; hence, there is lack of schooling and proper training of females.
Also, women face a lack of confidence as they do not get the appropriate support from their friends and family which hampers their growth in the corporate world. They do not get access to many resources such as transportation, education and literacy, technology and financial resources for carrying on their entrepreneurial activities.
The figure below highlights the reasons why women in the Indian society are not able to represent their entrepreneurial skills. According to the article, the main barrier faced by women entrepreneurs is male-stereotyping, excluding the women from various communication networks, due to which they are not able to develop contacts with other individuals and organizations which affects their working. Also, family responsibilities bestowed upon and lack of experience in the particular field hampers the growth of female entrepreneurs.
According to Davidson et al (2006), many women entrepreneurs are not taken seriously by the suppliers, wholesalers and business clients. This leads to difficulty for the women entrepreneurs as they are not able to market their products and services properly. Attaining acceptance from all these people becomes a highly difficult task for women as they judge the female entrepreneurs on the basis of their prior experience rather than the skills and knowledge possessed by them.
Also, it was established in the study conducted in India (Himachal Pradesh) that women find it difficult to market their products as they face tough competition from established large organizations and lack of good transportation facility and poor location of their shops also affects their business.
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Koshal, M., Gupta, A. and Koshal, K. R. (1998) Women Managers in India challenges and opportunities: Equal Opportunities International. 17 (8), P. 14.
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