mom and daughter swimming

Inside the World of a Successful Businesswoman

I grew up watching my mom juggle being a mom of two daughters, a wife and an owner of a prospering business. The way in which she made her vision a reality by accomplishing extraordinary business milestones, while also being the absolute best mom to my sister and I, will never cease to amaze me. Her passion, dedication and endless hard work has had an exceptional influence on me and my plans for the future. In my eyes, my mom is the ultimate feminist icon and many of her experiences as a businesswoman can inspire young women and guide them towards fulfilling success. The following is the interview I conducted with my mom in hopes to get a glimpse into her world as a successful businesswoman.

Her Campus (HC): Do you feel successful? If so, how long did it take you to feel successful?

Mary Jackson (MJ): Yes, I do feel successful, some days more than others. Once I achieve one goal, I make a new one; therefore, there is always new success to strive for. I don’t feel like it can just sit back, relax and take it all in just yet.

HC: Has being a woman in the business world made it more difficult for you to feel successful?

MJ: Well, as a woman and a mother, it has taken longer to reach some of my business goals because my children are always my priority. It was especially harder to reach some of my goals when my girls were younger. My husband travels a great deal for his job so I have been the only parent at home often. For me, this meant putting business goals on the back burner. Now that my children are older and much more independent, I am able to dedicate more time to my business and direct it more assertively. I gather that this is likely a familiar juggling act for most working mothers; managing being the primary household organizer, caregiver and having a career all simultaneously.

HC: What are some stereotypes or prejudice you’ve experienced when starting and running your business? What kind of people were judging you?

MJ: In many situations, people assume that because I am a woman, I won’t know how to do certain things. For instance, when repairmen come to my facility, they commonly direct their explanations to my male business partner as if being a woman means I won’t understand what’s being discussed. It is usually men making those judgments. In spite of the stereotyping and preconceived notions I have experienced, I have learned to be good at many things and I have become very independent.

HC: Have you been underestimated or not taken seriously when starting your business and trying to expand it?

MJ: I suppose it depends on the type of business you are in. In my business, I deal with children and parents. So, as a female and a mother, my insight is welcomed and respected. As for my male business partner, this same response is not as common. However, in meetings for business, whether it’s for a construction project or repair issue, men will inevitably direct questions to someone other than the females in the room, including me. This is especially consistent in meetings with men of older generations. I have been on the receiving end of not being taken as a serious, equal part in business and I have witnessed the same situation happen to other women. Through the years I have learned to be more assertive, direct, and knowledgeable in my business dealings so that there is never a question as to who these men should be talking to. I have learned that the best way to assert myself is by starting the conversation rather than waiting to respond; this allows me to take control from the very start. I started my business 16 years ago, so handling these situations has become easier with the confidence that I now have as a 51-year-old.

HC: Have you ever been groped or inappropriately touched by a man during business-related interactions? If so, how did it make you feel?

MJ: Yes, and most recently just a few weeks ago. These situations don’t have much of an effect on how it makes me feel but rather it clearly highlights the type of person I am dealing with. It says more about the man than it says about me. If anything, it makes me more determined to prove myself as an intelligent and successful businesswoman. If I ever felt like I needed to speak up and confront someone, I would not hesitate to do so.

HC: Has being a successful businesswoman empowered you in any way? Have you ever felt inferior as a woman in the male-dominated business industry?

MJ: It has empowered me as a mother of two daughters to try to be a positive role model for them. I have not felt inferior, but I have been aware of when people are intentionally trying to make me feel inferior. What makes me successful is my ability to rise above negative misconceptions by not letting them hinder my confidence or my ability to do business.

HC: Do you think it is easier for men to become successful in business?

MJ: Yes, which I think is mainly due to wage disparity we see between men and women. Men are typically the larger earners in families, so the priority is traditionally given to their careers over a woman’s career. We woman we have been taught to put ourselves secondary. Business is a man’s world and thus it is set up to boost only male success. A man will still earn more money than a woman of the same profession, even if she is more educated and qualified. I hope this will change in generations to come. I like to see myself as part of that change by inspiring my daughters.

HC: What advice do you have for aspiring businesswomen?

MJ: Learn to work hard for your dreams and achievements, don’t expect them to come to you! Learn how to do things for yourself, even minor things like learning how to change your own tire!

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