A Look at Women's Economic Empowerment
By Carol Hansen Grey
I've been self-employed since 1993 and thoroughly enjoy the freedom of setting my own hours and the rewards of forging my own trail while persuing the work that I love. It's truly not an easy path, however, and has taken a lot of self growth to feel comfortable in setting an hourly rate for my services that feels good to me and is, what I feel, reflective of the skills, talents, integrity and wisdom that I bring to the table.
Much of my work during the last 14 years has been in the area of helping people empower themselves, particularly women. Over the years, I've made an interesting observation around economic empowerment. The majority of women who want to work with me often ask me to reduce my fees. This is NOT true of the men who want to work with me. The men have actually indicated they feel they are getting a bargain.
I've come to believe that women in general have been conditioned to think that their work is somehow of less value than men's work -- so when they enter into a business relationship with another woman, they go to that place of disempowerment and ask the woman to accept less than her true worth. It is a conditioning that I feel we, as women, need to overcome in order to truly step into our power and to help prepare the way for the birthing of a partnership paradigm.
There is much work to be done by women to empower themselves in this area. We first need to recognize our own worth and then not be afraid to ask for what we want in the way of compensation for our work. We also need to honor other women's worth and avoid coming from a place of scarcity by being willing to pay for the services rendered by another woman without expecting a discount. If the service or product is more than we can afford, we need to be upfront about that and have the conversation. If, on the other hand, it is not a matter of being able to afford the service, but simply that we expect a discount because the service is being performed by a woman for a woman -- that, in my opinion, simply continues to expand the consciousness of women's disempowerment and inequality.
This is not an issue women can blame on men. In fact, my experience is that men are actually modeling the way for us. We, as women, need to recognize this disempowering pattern and choose to rise above it. The circle model supports us in doing just that. In circle we come together as empowered women, as collaborators and as co-creators in a supportive environment of trust where everyone's gifts are valued.