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Fin24 user Zelna Oberholster writes:
AS WOMEN in business, we are often thought of as pretty
faces with no brains.
We have to tolerate occasional disguised compliments, such
as "She doesn't only dress fine, sometimes her head works fine".
For this reason women often work twice as hard for half the
pay to prove that they are able to do a job at least as well, but often better
than their male counterparts.
The only time being a woman counts in our favour is during
job interviews. Because of affirmative action and economic empowerment
policies, companies are obliged to give you preference in certain
And then the hard work starts. Because after an eight- to
nine-hour day, we have to start a second shift at home.
For many of us, the luxury of help eludes us; we have to
leave really early to drop kids off at school and be on time for work - often
being the last to leave so as not to be considered inferior to men - and then
pick our kids up late at school.
We cannot expect any help to come in that early and leave
that late. This gives us guilt trips, leaving us in a constant tug of war
of between family and work life.
We smile quietly at an apron in a retailer which reads
"the Queen of F..n everything", because we know it's not far from the
truth, but wishing it were entirely true.
But there are moments when we are rewarded for our tenacity.
Like when our male colleagues get promoted for work we've done, or our managers
get praise for our efforts. Of course it is often amusing to see the glee and
know that we have played a part in it.
When our degrees are conferred and our daughters look up to
us and say: "I know now that anything is possible" we know we have
The cherry on top is when you sit among MBA candidates
writing their entrance exams and there are more women than men attempting the
Or when one William Bird tweets: "Just attended
fascinating talk on impact investment.1st time I've ever been at business event
In SA where it was dominated by women."
The same sense of pride the nation experienced when Le Clos
won the gold medal, and Oscar bravely attempted his race, is experienced by the
pack when we see the strides we have made since "Burn the Bra".
In realising that our past does not define us, that we are
the creators of our own future, despite hardships, abuse, inequality, we can
choose to triumph over that and become all that we are meant to be and perhaps
I am the daughter of a bus driver, yet I am able to apply
for an MBA degree. I am not alone. My life dream is one step away. They say good
things come to those who wait, but waiting is no good any more.
We have to do something to get what we want. There is no
instant gratification. There is no room for entitlement. We have to work harder
and cleverer towards the goals we set ourselves.
Are we taken seriously in the boardroom? Sometimes, by the
chaps around the table who are serious about business and who want what is best
for the business.
The biggest obstacle for women to be taken seriously in the
workplace may very well be the way women perceive themselves. If we want to be
regarded as equals at the office, why then do women insist on having separate
The one or two meetings I have attended for women only added
no value to my business knowledge. It was more a feel good, hug and dance
getting together that appeared to meet the emotional needs, which could just as
well have been done over cappuccino and baked chocolate mousse cake.
I say this with utmost respect - networking with like-minded
(in this case business-minded) people takes valuable time off our very busy
schedules. Make it count.
If women start taking themselves more seriously without
negating from their feminine touch too much, if they strike a balance between
family life, have a passion for what they do, educate themselves, do not expect
everything to fall into their laps because they are women and manage to balance
the guilt trip, Häagen-Dazs ice cream and apply their minds to find solutions
and stop making excuses, the road ahead might be a tad easier for our
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