Starting businesses can be a daunting task for women but one Nottinghamshire group has taken it upon themselves to make the process easier.
Blue Stockings, named after a women’s educational self help group from the 1700s, was formed by businesswomen Beth Marriott, Debbie Clarke and Jeanne Booth. The whole point? To change the business landscape and give women extra help with capitalising on their ideas.
With men twice as likely to set up is business as women, the main question remains why? Childcare is one of the biggest factors holding back businesswomen, with 21% of women surveyed saying family responsibilities would hold them back, compared to 6% of men.
Co-founder of the Blue Stockings Society, Beth, knows all about how children can be a factor in success in the business world.
“I was always an addict for business courses and opened my first venture when I was 30, around the age where people would start to think about having children,” she said.
“None of the courses I went on mentioned anything about pregnancy or even having a family. I felt like I had to choose between business and family because the two didn’t meet, even though I knew they could.”
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“I can’t start my own business due to the commitments I have with my children.”
“Women should be in their homes looking after their children.”
“I don’t think there is anything holding back women going into business.”
Another drawback to starting your own business could be the loneliness you feel from working alone and self-employed. However, Blue Stockings works to dispel that feeling, something Debbie knows plenty about.
“It is a great feeling being self-employed but you can sometimes miss the team dynamic you get from working in an office,” she said.
“Having an idea and actually putting it into practice are two very different things and sometimes you think it might not be for you.
“So for me, it was about having a group of resources to call on full of different women with different skillsets, something that Blue Stockings provides.”
The Society shows no sign of slowing either, with the idea being adopted in other cities across the country whilst the network’s also aiming to grow funds to offer more resources to other members.
And Clare Brindley, Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Nottingham Trent University, outlines exactly why groups like these are important for women in business.
“We still have a large number of networks that are male-based with research we have conducted showing that women think current networks out there are not for them,” she said.
“To improve working conditions for businesswomen we need to ensure there is more tailored training to cater for their needs.
“Even more important is to improve the help offered with childcare and maternity benefits as if you are self-employed it is very hard to go on maternity leave.”