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Here’s to all the small business women!

I’ll be straight with you. I’ve got some interesting, and sometimes conflicting, views on women in business. Some of these women’s groups make me cringe, especially the ones that mostly bang on about how clever women are for managing to raise children and have a successful career too. Is it a bit condescending to all the female business owners who don’t have kids? Are their efforts and achievements not as worthy?

Children and other committments aside, there’s no question that some Aussie businesswomen are brilliant. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Suzi Dafnis, who heads up the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. In fact, she’s our March cover star (the magazine is in shops today). I asked her if we even need separate groups for women in business these days and whether they make the divide bigger? Surprisingly, she says we probably don’t, but women are a niche, like any other, and with 15,000 members it’s obviously a popular one.

It’s International Women’s Day this week so all the usual negative statistics about the lack of women on boards are being floated. These are important issues and it’s great to raise awareness, whether you agree with quotas or not. But let’s not forget all the impressive ladies in high places that Australia already has. We have a female Prime Minister (whether you like her or not), a female Governor General and a female “big four” banking executive in Westpac’s CEO Gail Kelly. Then there are all the amazing women running micro, small and medium-sized businesses who I’m lucky to meet on a weekly basis.

On Monday, I was a guest at a lunch hosted by Commonwealth Bank and Women in Business Industry & Investment NSW to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day.  What a great event! The speakers were Maggie Beer (who I’m sure you’ve all heard of!) and Ronni Kahn, founder of the charity OzHarvest. Both these charming and impressive ladies were awarded the prestigious title of Australian of the Year in 2010. What shone through to me from both of them was passion. I wonder if that’s something that women maybe do a bit better than men? What do you think?

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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