Despite progress gender gap in business remains

COURTESY LEIGH MITCHELL. Women at a Women in Biz conference in Vancouver. COURTESY LEIGH MITCHELL. Women at a Women in Biz conference in Vancouver.
Humber graduate and founder of Women in Biz Leigh Mitchell

Humber graduate and founder of Women in Biz Network, Leigh Mitchell, is passionate about connecting women across North America. COURTESY LEIGH MITCHELL

Aabida Dhanji
Biz/Tech Reporter

Not that long ago, it was uncommon to see a woman in many kinds of workplaces, and her place was considered to be in the home.

Since then, women have risen in society and the business world.

“There is definitely a gender imbalance of leadership roles for women in Fortune 500 companies. Only 14 per cent of Executive Officer positions are held by women,” said Humber grad Leigh Mitchell.

“It is cited that lack of qualified candidates is the issue but given that 34.5 per cent of the MBAs are earned by women I find this hard to believe,” she said.

Mitchell is a small business expert and the founder of Women in Biz Network. She specializes in professional development for women through skill building events, conferences, memberships, webinars and marketing services.

Mitchell is passionate about connecting women online across North America and in person throughout Canada. Her main focus is to empower women with opportunities to learn how to lead the life of their dreams.

The Women in Biz Network helps women with professional and entrepreneurial development, said Mitchell.

“I started the organization to provide support for women entrepreneurs who feel isolated and need professional development that fits within their busy schedules,” she said.

Women can become more known in the business world by networking, reading, taking courses and blogging on areas of her expertise, she said.

Working on becoming an expert in a field she feels passionate and knowledgeable in is the key to success and advancement, said Mitchell.

“Women are coming up more in the business world because they are going away from the traditional stay at home with the kids and building a career for themselves,” said Naureen Hussain, 27, student at University of Guelph-Humber in the Business Administration program.

“Women can become more known in the business world by leveraging their keen organizational skills and multi-tasking,” she said.

If these skills keep a woman on top of everything at home and in a family, they definitely would also prove to be an asset in the work place, said Hussain.

“Regardless of one’s geography, the Internet and social media are platforms that will propel women forward in the business world, since we are living in the Information Age,” said Rahim Daya, an MBA grad from McMaster University.

If women have strong business insight, they will excel, and the Internet will make them known if used properly, he said.

“I believe this issue to be more complicated in lesser developed countries, where access to education, quality health care and wealth are far more scarce,” said Daya.

Inequality and gender discrimination deprive many women the right to education, he said.

Women are coming up in the business world but they still have a long way to go, said Rachna Kaur, 23, a fourth year student at York University.

“For a women to be more known in the business world and for the right reasons, they should be seen as a businessperson first, then a woman.”