Attitudes like this make it unsurprising that only 17% of of small business in the UK are owned by women. Writing in The Guardian's Women in Leadership section Anne McPherson points out what a huge loss this is for the UK: "Not only is this a real opportunity for our economy if we can encourage more women to set up businesses, but our own polling of female entrepreneurs shows that those women who do make the leap and start their own business report a greatly improved work-life balance, increased confidence levels and the type of job flexibility that make them never want to work for someone else."
Part of it is probably the Brit women's terrible habit. We'd rather self deprecate. My laptop keeps on overheating at inopportune moments (you might think I might just as I finish an unsaved article. I mean as a punchline is reached in The Mindy Project). Because I'm so bloody pragmatic I googled 'laptop overheats and shuts down' expecting advice ranging from 'buy a fancy new laptop' to 'vacuum your laptop and stop eating granola over it'. Instead I was advised to unplug the machine, ground myself (I know what they meant but I like the idea of grounding myself meaning going to the mirror and telling myself I'm nothing special.) and then clean all the parts of the cooling thingy. I've solved the situation for now by balancing my laptop on a book so no cooling vents are blocked. And I gave it a wipe.
I'd rather tell you the story of my laptop, making me seem ditzily resourceful than the fact I used to work in music PR, currently work in 2 different interesting offices, run my own site and write for others. Making me sound rather more together and effing go-getting. And I've met Lulu.
we have a very one dimensional image of what a business woman is
I would wager that it is not just a fear that they would have to face showdowns with Mary Portas or Hilary Devey. It's that in order to succeed they might have to become them. Or like them, this is business woman of the year we're aiming for, not Single White Female. And we all know how those women are described. Bitches. Because they present their professional side and nothing else. Why should or would they?
However it means we have a very one dimensional image of what a business woman is. Sharp suits, sharper hair and sharpest tongue. When we see them in films to humanise them we either make them realise too late that they should never have sold their ovaries to the devil for a life of sheer tights and boardroom rule. If only they'd had a baaaaaabyyyyyyy. Or the very successful woman has to compensate for her success with being very chaotic in the rest of her life.
Take The Mindy Project for instance. I'm a fan so we have to. Mindy is a successful obstetrician/gynaecologist who is able to order up her English co-worker at all hours like clear soup, has a huge flat and generally pleases herself with food, friends and films. However so's we aren't intimidated by Mindy (which we should be â beautiful, witty, loves her job? Eurgh, what a bitch) we learn that everybody thinks she's a hot mess because she is over 30 and single. MESS! Her married with kids friend is the success, not Mindy. For there can only be one.
It seems from the poll women who fail and then pick themselves up are more inspiring to wannabe business women: "...it is not always the ultra-successful alpha-females who motivate budding entrepreneurs, but that women who work hard, refuse to give up or let setbacks get them down, can be just as inspirational."
Are we being realistic here, self defeating or just endearingly chaotic while bringing home the bacon?