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'Women need someone to look up to'
16 Dec 2013 Radka Minarechová Other
ONE OF the earliest role models of Marjorie Maginn, the president and executive director of the Women in Government foundation, was her mother. Maginn’s parents bought and expanded a candy delivering business, which her mother went on to lead. Since all of the children helped with the family business, they quickly learned how a business functions.
At the age of five Maginn learned from her mother that if she wanted to earn some money, she could not buy and sell candy for the same price, but needed to sell it at a slightly higher price.
“It is wonderful to be introduced from a very young age to business and learn how it operates,” said Maginn, who was one of the speakers at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum conference in Bratislava on December 3.
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Maginn about the importance of role models for women entrepreneurs, the mentor-mentee relationship, the salary gap between men and women and the proposal of the European Commission to set quotas for women in managerial positions.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): During your opening speech at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum you stressed the importance of role models. Why do you consider role models so important?
TSS: Slovakia is rather short on such role models, as the number of women running their own businesses or serving in executive or other important positions is quite low. Where should women who lack role models in their environment draw inspiration from?
The programme through the US Embassy that they started is a great way to shine a spotlight on these women and get them better known and get maybe some press about them, some more familiarity around the country with the role models that you do have here. You have some strong ones, you just need to get their stories out, so that others can follow them and be more like them.
TSS: In the case of mentoring, is it important for the mentor to be from the same environment as the mentee? What knowledge can a foreign mentor pass on to a mentee living and doing business in a different environment?
The biggest thing that a mentor can do is help develop the self-confidence in the mentee, to know someone who has gone through the struggles of dealing with the work-life balance, dealing with starting your own business, or how to promote yourself within a business.
Developing the self-assurance that you are smart enough and strong enough and you can do that role. Someone who encourages you along - that is the reason and the role for a mentor.
TSS: A lack of self-confidence among Slovak women is cited as one of the reasons behind the low number of women entrepreneurs in the country. What can the state, society and women themselves do to boost the self-confidence of Slovak women, and thus better prepare them for starting a business?
TSS: In the US, similar to Europe, many women are more educated but earn less than men. What are the reasons behind this gender imbalance in the US? Is anything being done to address it?
I would love to help educate women that, on the employment side, make sure that you are from the very beginning starting where men are. If you do not start at the same level, then you will never catch up.
TSS: How do you perceive quotas for women, either at the national or EU level? What is the situation in this respect in the US?
I would like to see another way for us to encourage and promote businesses that are employing women instead of forcing them to hire a woman. I want to have them excited about doing it, and therefore they go out and seek these great candidates on their own. I don’t think any of us like being forced to do something. But if you put that goal out there, then we all want to reach it, especially if there is some sort of advantage fiscally or otherwise tied to it.
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