The Advancing Leadership Blog

TEC President Catherine Osler on Women Entrepreneurs Leaping Barriers

In Canada we are in an environment where, on the whole, people can succeed – it’s not about whether a man can succeed or a woman can succeed. Of course in certain industries and organizations there are real and perceived barriers for both. Gender barriers show up in funny places, but we’re in a very different environment from the past. It’s completely acceptable for a woman to not just work, but to start her own company and to be the leader of her own company. Nobody thinks that’s weird. So those barriers are gone, for the most part.

The biggest barrier for women entrepreneurs is themselves. You have to get out of your own way. It’s about having enough confidence as your own person, as an individual to see that if you have a dream you can do something about it, and being realistic about what it takes.

Women do have a lot of pressures at different times of their lives to build a family, to be the mother, and the wife and the caregiver – and women are caregivers and child-bearers. The squeeze between taking care of your children and taking care of your parents is still very much there for women. I think that affects most of women’s decisions about what they’re going to do in business and in life.

There is a way that a woman owns a space for all of the people that she holds and takes care of in her immediate sphere. Holding that space for everybody limits the focus that is needed to bring to building a successful business. So it’s a challenge, there’s no question.

There are many kinds of help available, so if you’re clear about what you want to do, recognize the circumstances that you’re in, the pulls and draws on your time and resources, and if you have a dream and you want to pursue it, then set yourself up for success by identifying and accessing the resources you need in order to help you do it.

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