This Negative Stereotype About Women Just Doesn't Hold Up Anymore
Words: Anthonia Akitunde
Despite what pop culture would have you believe, women are increasingly invested in other women's success. That's why we're partnering with the Maryland Women's Business Center to step up for women entrepreneurs.
I'm beginning to think the stories of women's cattiness and inability to support one another have been greatly overblown. While entire seasons of popular reality television shows have been built on this well-worn premise, it's starting to show its age.
In 2013, journalist Ann Friedman wrote an article for New York Magazine that I still see in my newsfeed every now and then called "Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends."
"When we hate on women who we perceive to be more 'together' than we are," she writes, "we’re really just expressing the negative feelings we have about our own careers, or bodies, or relationships. Here’s my solution: When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better."
Black women took shine theory to the next level that same year with #BlackGirlMagic, a hashtag and sentiment created by CaShawn Thompson. We didn't even need to meet the woman in question to celebrate her. Just knowing she was out there killing it in whatever field we found her in was enough to celebrate her existence and feel empowered by her accomplishments. They were our friends in our heads, and shouting out their greatness as a community, made us feel a little of their shine, too.
The number of women-owned businesses is on the rise, with Black women representing the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. We're realizing that if we can't have a seat at the traditional table, we can build our own and seat ourselves at its head. We're seeing the constant physical, emotional, and political assault women are under online and in the real world, and we're creating communities of support to ask, "Are you OK, sis?" And we're doing it all thanks to women lifting each other up over tearing each other down.
I've been in awe of how much women show up for each other in all the roles they occupy, especially as I've been on the receiving end of so much support from women as a business owner. That's why mater mea is partnering with the Maryland Women’s Business Center for their 5th Anniversary Awards Luncheon and Step Up for Women Entrepreneurs online and silent auction.
"We know that women entrepreneurs are playing a vital role in the growth of our economy, yet lag behind their male counterparts in revenue growth and access to financing," Kiesha Haughton, managing director of Maryland Women’s Business Center, explained in a press release. "With our online auction we seek to raise awareness and additional funds to help support the growth, visibility, and sustainability of our local women entrepreneurs."
The Maryland Women's Business Center "has helped over 5,000 women entrepreneurs start, sustain, and grow women-owned enterprises," and has charged itself with the task of raising $100,000 by October 6, 2016 in support of that mission.
You can support the Maryland Women's Business Center by participating in Step Up for Women Entrepreneurs, their online auction from September 23 to October 2 featuring a number of unique items and experiences, or registering for their October 6 luncheon with keynote speaker Miko Branch, the co-founder of the natural hair care line Miss Jessie's. (You can read our interview with Miko on how she's been able to build her business and life up thanks to the support of women here.)
Join us and the Maryland Women's Business Center in stepping up for women entrepreneurs. It feels great—magical even.
Anthonia Akitunde is the founder of mater mea.