I get asked a lot, “Why do you only have women in the Bird Table?” and I have no problem at all explaining why.
Some of that is based on what the women say, some on gut feel & some is based on facts.
So what do they say?
So, the members of The Bird Table tell me that they feel comfortable talking about themselves in an all-female group, more than they would with men at the table. They love men, they say, but don’t need them there for this! Reading the now famous ‘Lean-In’ by Sheryl Sandberg (http://leanin.org/book/), throws some light on that, and the reluctance of women to talk up, in a mixed group. If you’re interested to learn more about that, I would highly recommend that book. I don’t agree with every word, but it’s a great addition to the book shelf and the thinking.
Our members say that they love the mutual support of women, and although this is not a mothers’ group, there are lots and lots of mothers in The Bird Table, all doing the juggle and recognising the unique challenge of balancing a business and a family.
So the gut feel?
I want to be part of the movement which is raising the power of women in making their own choices. It resonates with me, it matters to me, and it matters to the world. I believe that empowering the women and mothers of this world is the only way to a more peaceful, safe future. Through the wonderful Dr Sue Black, (http://about.me/sueblack) I did some work at An Cosan near Dublin recently, developing #techmums, to help themselves out of deprivation using technology.
An Cosan is a miraculous community college inspiring young women to get an education in order to change their lives for the better. The leader there, Liz Waters, has a vision that we can “change the world in one generation”, and I share her view. We really should, because women rock, and they’re worth it!
So what are the facts?
Thanks to www.prowess.org.uk for the stats.
- Women account for under a third of those in self-employment, but over half the increase in self-employment since the recession started in 2008. Between 2008 and 2011 women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the new self-employed. (Labour Force Survey, Office of National Statistics 2013). They need support!
- There are now almost 1.5 million women self-employed which represents an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn (Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013).
- Women account for only 17% of business owners, ie. owners/ managers/ employers (Labour Force Survey 2008, in Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013)
- UK Women’s businesses have a higher churn rate (ie. more start-ups and closures). But women are less likely to attribute closure to ‘business failure’ and more likely to cite ‘personal reasons’ – which peak at age 25-34 for women. (Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013)
- 10% of the female population are thinking about starting up a business (Women in Business: key facts, Government Equalities Office 2008)
And that’s before I start telling you about the low numbers of women in the board room compared with men and the salary differences.
So when people say “Why women?” I just shout “Why NOT!!” I’d love to develop a similar business for men, but I’m starting here, because women need it more urgently. And that’s a fact.
My warm, excited welcome to new website for The Bird Table