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Shark Tank 2 Reveals Harassment Of Women Entrepreneurs, Never Stops!

Shark Tank 2 is exposing the unfortunate natural discrepancy between how women entrepreneurs are treated by viewers and often the panel itself in comparison to their men counterparts.

What is Shark Tank?

The show Shark Tank 2 has taken the screen by storm, attracting the attention of lots of young entrepreneurs. For those who may not know, Shark Tank is inspired by the original American show wherein aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business models to a panel of “sharks” who are self-made millionaire investors and persuade them to invest money in their idea.

It is clear to see how instrumental the show is becoming in exposing young people to the concept of ventures, possible business models, it has also unfortunately shown a natural discrepancy between how male versus female entrepreneurs are treated by viewers and often the panel itself.

How are women entrepreneurs different from their male counterparts?

Sabeena Ladha, the founder of vegan, gluten-free cookie dough company, Deux, appeared on the show in a hot pink suit jacket, white blouse, pink shorts and white heels to discuss her brand. For this, she was attacked by viewers for being dressed inappropriately and therefore being a less than desirable candidate for investment.

More recently, Yushika Jolly, founder and CEO of Paradyes, a colourful semi-permanent hair dye brand, induced a shark fight between investors as it was a strong pitch. However, audiences were displeased with Yushika, calling her greedy and argumentative while lauding her husband, Siddharth, for his negotiating skills and business acumen.

Yushika pointed this bias out on her social media explaining how in the last 48 hours, she has been called “rude, “smug, “manipulative, “greedy, “bitch”, “unprofessional” while receiving a flood of hate messages in her DMs as well as hateful comments on her personal page and brands’ page.

Why is entrepreneurship harder for Indian women?

It is no secret that despite policies and measures taken to promote gender equality, men still dominate India’s entrepreneurial environment. According to a recent report, most women-owned businesses in the country operate in low-revenue sectors, while men control the more profitable sectors like manufacturing, construction, and the like.

The male-centric nature of most industries also forces women entrepreneurs to operate in sectors that are predominantly “women-friendly”, such as education, social work, apparel, beauty and the like. It largely limits the scope of what Indian women entrepreneurs can actually do, in turn stunting the potential of industries at large.

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Aside from not receiving the social support needed to kick-start their business, families and peers often end up discouraging them, leading to a lack of mentorships from the business community as not many are not ready to believe the potential of women entrepreneurs.

Similarly, with institutional support, despite schemes to promoting female entrepreneurship, many women don’t receive timely guidance or help and do not have a proper support network adversely which impacts their confidence in business and risk taking.

Historically, women-led businesses have seen massive bias in matters of funding!

Historically, funding in India had a massive gender bias. Women-led businesses lack access to capital due to the prejudices of investors. Many firms and angel investors fail to invest in women-led businesses, while banks and financial institutions consider women less credit-worthy. Many Indian women don’t own property or assets, which becomes a problem when applying for loans or private financing.

Limited access to professional networks is another one of the basic problems of women entrepreneurs in India. Most professional networks are harder to access for women, while patriarchy conditions both men and women to play certain defined gender roles. The pressure to stick to traditional roles is among the main challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

Often, women are demanded that they give up their entrepreneurship and take up lighter professions that allow them to focus more on their family. This also means that a woman who chooses her career over building family is looked down upon.

Aside from this, women are also limited in their motility to conduct business activities and can often be restricted to the house due to familial responsibilities. They lose out on opportunities to go out, interact with the business community, and build market access. It also impedes their learning opportunities, access to resources and mentors, and more.

We need a positive entrepreneurial ecosystem!

Growing up with a lack of focused, assertive and driven women means that a majority of the Indian population sees them as foreign or something against design, leading to negative reception and out pour of hatred towards women entrepreneurs.

We must start nurturing a positive entrepreneurial ecosystem that isn’t skewered to support men more and provide women with more social and institutional support in terms of business and growth.

Image source: still from Shark Tank 2, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Ria Tirkey

I am Ria from New Delhi. I did my Bachelors in Political Science and History and am currently pursuing my Masters in Political Science from University of Delhi and Postgraduate Diploma in Criminal Justice from read more...

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