MONEY Workplace

These 5 Myths Keep Women From Starting Small Businesses

woman working on jewelry in shop
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Never sabotage your own success.

Deborah Sweeney owns a small business that helps launch other small businesses. She’s noticed an interesting trend in the last five years: Her clientele has changed from 10% women to 25%.

It would be more, says Sweeney, whose MyCorporation.com helps entrepreneurs deal with paperwork and legal hurdles, except for what she says are misconceptions that keep women out of the small-business world.

Women playing a bigger role in small businesses is no longer big news, of course. In 2014, there were roughly 9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 8 million workers and recording nearly $1.4 trillion in sales that year, according to data from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

But Sweeney thinks more women would give entrepreneurship a shot if not for these five major myths:

1. It’s impossible for a woman to succeed as an entrepreneur.

When she tells people that she runs her own small business, Sweeney says, they assume she’s talking about something, well, small. They don’t imagine her being at the helm of a company that posts nearly $9 million in annual revenue.

“Oh, are you doing that out of your garage?” is a common question she’s asked, she says.

Some people just assume that when you’re a female small-business owner, you’re “making beaded necklaces or making nursing products for children,” she tells NerdWallet.

In Sweeney’s case, the false assumptions can be comically sexist.

Her husband, Tor, is also a small-business owner, and she says it’s not unusual for people to ask “if we work together at my business.”

People “have this mindset that I would not run it alone,” she says, “that I am a business owner, in essence, because I married a man who is a business owner. It’s funny.”

Coincidentally, Tor Sweeney’s company is called Dresses.com. It’s a clothing manufacturer that makes prom dresses and wedding dresses.

And yes, she says, people often also ask if she owns that company, not MyCorporation.com.

2. Women just aren’t as entrepreneurial as men.

“Women have a difficult time conceptualizing for themselves what entrepreneurship is about,” Sweeney says.

That’s because they don’t have enough role models, she says. Sweeney has met young women who say they want to be entrepreneurs but eventually pivot to another career, working for a company.

Sweeney notes that many of the women coming to MyCorporation.com are venturing into entrepreneurship for the first time, whereas many of the men are serial entrepreneurs who have used her company’s services multiple times.

3. Women don’t achieve as much success as entrepreneurs as they do in the corporate world.

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg sparked a national discussion in 2013 on how women can reach their goals in corporate America with the release of her best-selling book, “Lean In.”

“Many women who ‘lean in’ can be successful,” Sweeney says. “That’s what they want. I wanted more. I wanted not to have to hire a nanny to be with my kids. The way I could do that was to run my own business.”

Besides, she says, she simply was not happy in the corporate world. “You can be extremely successful, but I was going crazy,” she says. “You can forge your own path as an entrepreneurial woman,” and “compete on your own playing field.”

“I always say ‘reach up’ instead of ‘lean in,’” she says.

4. Running a small business is more time consuming than working in the corporate world.

Most people assume running your own business means working outrageously long hours. For female entrepreneurs, that has typically meant added pressure, given the traditional, if outdated, roles they’re often expected to play in the home.

But outrageous hours are another misconception, Sweeney says. She quit a corporate job six years ago to become an entrepreneur and says it “actually presents a fabulous opportunity” for achieving a better work-life balance.

For one thing, she stresses, “you’re not mandated by corporate America to work certain hours.”

5. Your children and family will suffer because of your small business.

Her work certainly keeps her busy, and she admits “you never stop thinking about your business when you’re a business owner.”

There are certain things she’s not able to do with and for her two sons. “We don’t do play dates in the afternoon,” she says.

But being a small-business owner has made her a more effective parent, she says.

“Some say, ‘I can never be an entrepreneur as a mom.’ And I say, ‘It has given me flexibility.’ You can find the right balance when you’re the master of your own destiny.”

Yes, her schedule can get hectic. “At 2 p.m., I run and pick my kids up and take them to work with me,” she says.

But that’s been good for her children, she says. When they’re with their friends, she says, “I hear them talk, ‘There’s my mom’s office and she has 30 employees.’”

“There’s something about engaging your family in your career,” Sweeney says. “They see an example of work ethic and believe in it.”

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TIME

Cannes Film Festival Steps Into Controversy Over High Heels-Only Policy

Women are reportedly being turned away from screenings for wearing flat shoes

The Cannes Film Festival is facing backlash after several women reported that they were stopped from entering screenings for wearing the wrong shoes.

Screen Daily reports the women were turned away from a screening of Carol in their rhinestone flat shoes, even though some of the women reportedly suffered from unspecified medical conditions and couldn’t wear heels. According to the Guardian, festival-goers are to be “smartly dressed” at Cannes screenings—men are required to wear black tie and shoes, but the guidelines for women are murkier.

Amy director Asif Kapadia said his wife was even initially turned away from a screening for wearing flat shoes, though she was eventually let in.

Many are calling the alleged rule sexist. Actress Emily Blunt said in a press conference on Tuesday that all women should wear flats, adding that a heels-only dress code for women would be “very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality.” Benico del Toro and Josh Brolin also joked that they should wear heels in protest.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux tweeted, however, that the heels-only rule was “unfounded,” despite the women’s reports.

TIME indonesia

Indonesia’s ‘Virginity Tests’ Obsession Highlights Its Truly Rotten Armed Forces

Indonesian Air Force female soldiers par
AFP/Getty Images Indonesian air-force female soldiers parade during a ceremony in Jakarta on April 9, 2007

Institutions grounded in sense and equality would never employ such a ghastly procedure, say activists

For decades, Indonesian women wishing to join the armed forces and police force, and also those planning to marry military officers, have had to quietly undergo a humiliating procedure known as the “virginity test.”

It’s a dirty secret that wasn’t made public — until Human Rights Watch began highlighting the practice. In a report released last week, the New York City–based advocacy group called for Indonesia’s military to stop imposing virginity tests on female recruits and fiancées of military officers — six months after revealing that Indonesia female police candidates were required to take the test.

“They argue that they want the physically and mentally best candidates to join the armed forces,” Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at HRW, tells TIME. “It’s the same logic in seeking military wives. They consider a virgin is mentally healthier than a nonvirgin. They reportedly often say, ‘How could you defend the honor of our nation if you cannot defend your own honor?’”

General Moeldoko, the military commander, sees nothing wrong with the practice. “It’s a good thing, why criticize it?” he told journalists last Friday. The virginity test “is a measure of morality. There’s no other way,” he added.

His reaction echoed that of a high-ranking police officer. The head of the national police law division, Inspector General Moechgiyarto, said the test was necessary to maintain the police force’s moral standards. “If she [a candidate] turns out to be a prostitute, how could we accept her for the job?” he said last November. (Other police officials denied the practice, though. Then national police chief General Sutarman said that same month that female recruits were required to undergo medical examinations, not virginity tests.)

The invasive two-finger virginity test, which the World Health Organization slams as having “no scientific validity” and which Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women condemns as a form of sexual violence, is a recurring topic in Indonesia. Public officials and legislators frequently float an idea to impose virginity tests, particularly on schoolgirls.

Last February, a city councilor of Jember, in eastern Java, suggested that graduating middle-school students should be required to take virginity tests. “If she is not a virgin, she can’t graduate,” he said. In late 2013, the education chief of Prabumulih, in South Sumatra province, proposed the test as a requirement for female students to enter high school. Both ideas, as with others, were shelved following public outcry.

But why is Indonesia so enamored of the idea of virginity? The authoritarian New Order regime may be gone, but its idea of women as a symbol of the nation’s moral guardian is still very much alive, says Lies Marcoes, a women’s-rights activist and medical anthropologist. In the democratic reform era, the rise of religious conservatism and the sense that moral values are under siege have made the idea even stronger. “Virginity has become more sacred,” Lies says. “For state institutions like the military, virginity test is a ‘moral’ symbol to cover up what is rotten.”

It is estimated that female officers comprise just 3% and 2% of the police and the armed forces, respectively. Male police and military officers far outnumber their female counterparts, but no officials have ever mentioned what test is required to gauge the men’s morality.

The use of virginity testing has been documented in several other countries. In Afghanistan, women and girls accused of “moral crimes,” such as running away (often from an abusive home or forced marriage) or extramarital affairs, are often subjected to the test. Despite a court ruling condemning the practice, virginity tests are still illegally used in Egyptian detention facilities. India has not yet systematically put in place a new protocol banning the test on rape survivors across the country.

It is unclear when Indonesia’s police and armed forces began conducting the virginity test, but HRW interviewed women who took the tests from as far back as the 1960s. Female military candidates are usually tested en masse at military hospitals, in large halls that are divided into curtain-separated examination rooms. “Those who defend the virginity test believe in junk science,” says Harsono of HRW. “They believe if [a woman’s hymen] is torn between 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock, it’s due to accidents. If it’s torn at 6 o’clock, they believe the woman has had active sexual activities.”

Irawati Harsono, commissioner at the women’s commission and a retired police officer, had to take the test when she joined the police force three decades ago. “As a woman who experienced it, I felt the test was very discriminatory and degrading,” she says. “Nobody could forget it, which means it is a traumatic experience.”

One retired air-force officer recalled she couldn’t have sex with her newlywed husband during their honeymoon, four years after she took the test. “My body was so stiff. I couldn’t open my legs,” she said, as quoted by HRW. “It was because of the trauma that I had with that ‘virginity test.’”

Following the HRW report last week, several lawmakers called for an end to the virginity test, saying there is no connection between virginity and morals. Interior Minister Tjahjo Kumolo had promised in December that he would scrap virginity tests for women joining the civil-service colleges.

Activists urge President Joko Widodo to abolish it, but the Indonesian leader, a social conservative, has so far been reticent on the issue. And there is little expectation of a major reversal on the attitude or policy. “The more the public thinks the nation’s morals are in disarray,” Lies says, “the stronger is the pressure on women to guard the symbol of purity, which is measured with the most ancient parameter that lies in the subconsciousness of patriarchal men: ‘virginity.’”

TIME celebrities

Here’s How Melissa McCarthy Responded to a Critic’s Sexist Comment

Melissa McCarthy arrives at the People's Choice Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Jan. 7, 2015, in Los Angeles.
John Shearer—Invision/AP Melissa McCarthy arrives at the People's Choice Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Jan. 7, 2015, in Los Angeles.

It got personal

Melissa McCarthy, star of the new movie Spy, turned a critic’s sexist review into a feminist moment.

When she was at the Toronto Film Festival last September promoting her movie St. Vincent, a critic walked up to McCarthy to praise the film, Entertainment Weekly reports. Earlier, that same critic had panned her 2014 movie, Tammy—directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone—calling McCarthy a good actor only at times when she looked more attractive.

McCarthy asked the critic if he had a daughter, and when he said that he did, she didn’t hold back. “Watch what you say to her,” she told him. “Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”

Read more from EW here

TIME feminism

‘Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel!’ Is a Hilarious Takedown of Everyday Sexism

Endless images of all-male academic and business panels highlight the problem of men dominating the conversation

Most of us have attended a talk or panel where every single speaker was male. Now, the Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel Tumblr is brilliantly shaming that kind of all-too-common sexism by posting images of, well, all-male panels.

The Tumblr was started in February 2015 by Finnish feminist researcher and artist Dr. Saara Särmä, 40, who conducted her dissertation on Internet parody images and memes. The title of her dissertation was “Junk Feminism and Nuclear Wannabes – Collaging Parodies of Iran and North Korea.” (Yes, you read that correctly.)

“As a feminist, I’ve been noticing these issues for a very long time, but having worked with visual material and humorous images in my dissertation, I thought I could do something visual as well,” Särmä tells TIME. In particular, Särmä witnessed what she says is the marginalization of women in academia, claiming that some of her colleagues were passed over or outright dismissed as serious thinkers because of their gender.

The question all fans of her Tumblr are asking, though: Why the David Hasselhoff stamp on every image?

“The Hoff is just simply Hoffsome,” Särmä says. “As a kid who grew up in the 80s watching the Knight Rider, I have a fondness for the Hoff, also he’s the epitome of a white masculinity, isn’t he?”

On a serious note, Särmä hopes that her collection of images will help highlight the prevailing problem of men dominating the conversation.

“I think women’s expertise is often not simply recognized. It is somehow easier to see a white middle-aged (or older) man in your mind when you think of an expert,” Särmä added. “Academia has been white men’s world long enough, it’s time for a change.”

For her part, Sarma recommends checking out initiatives to amplify female experts in public forums like Foreign Policy Interrupted or watchdog groups like EUPanelWatch.

TIME movies

Kathryn Bigelow: We Must End Gender Discrimination in Hollywood

The Zero Dark Thirty filmmaker weighs in on the ACLU's complaint involving discrimination against female directors

Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow spoke out against Hollywood sexism in a statement to TIME following the American Civil Liberties Union’s announcement that they are targeting discriminatory practices against female directors.

“I have always firmly believed that every director should be judged solely by their work, and not by their work based on their gender. Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward thinking and progressive people yet this horrific situation for women directors persists,” Bigelow says in a statement to TIME. “Gender discrimination stigmatizes our entire industry. Change is essential. Gender neutral hiring is essential.”

The ACLU sent three letters to the federal government Tuesday asking for an investigation into institutionalized sexism in the industry. A probe could result in rules that would force studios to consider female directors alongside male ones. Bigelow, one of only four women to be nominated for an Oscar and the only woman to win one, says she supports efforts to even playing field.

Only 7% of the top 250 grossing films in 2014 were directed by women—two percentage points lower than in 1998, according to the annual report conducted by San Diego State University. The ACLU and 50 female directors with whom the organization spoke believe systematic gender bias is to blame.

MORE: The ACLU Wants U.S. Government to Combat Sexism in Hollywood

TIME movies

The ACLU Wants the U.S. Government to Combat Sexism in Hollywood

Gender bias in movie-making has reached a tipping point

The American Civil Liberties Union is targeting sexism in Hollywood, and it wants the government to step in and help.

Only 7% of the top 250 grossing films in 2014 were directed by women—two percentage points lower than in 1998, according to the annual Celluloid Ceiling report conducted by San Diego State University. The organization believes systematic gender bias is to blame.

“Many of these women directors have been told that they ‘can’t be trusted with money’ by studio executives,” says Ariela Migdal, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU. “This isn’t just about stereotypes and implicit bias, it’s about blatant discrimination. We heard over and over again from female directors that they’ve been told, ‘This show is too hard for women’ or ‘You can’t do this movie, it’s action’—this to women who have directed plenty of action.”

So on Tuesday, the ACLU sent letters to three federal organizations charged with ensuring equal employment opportunity. The letters included research and testimonies from 50 women directors, exemplifying bias and reporting sexist practices such as secret, studio-compiled “short lists” of potential directors who are almost exclusively male. These shortlists may explain why in television, for example, only 17% of directors were female last year.

The civil rights group hopes the messages will lead to a federal investigation and government intervention, which might include requiring short lists to be public and a database of women directors to be made available to producers who claim they “don’t know any female filmmakers.”

The request for federal action comes after a tension-filled Oscar season. Selma director Ava DuVernay was snubbed by the Academy, and many critics suggested bigotry against women or people of color might be at play — especially as only four female directors have ever been nominated for an Oscar. And Patricia Arquette used her speech after winning Best Actress to call for wage equality in the industry.

These ideas aren’t new: Cate Blanchett lambasted “studio executives who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are a niche experience” at the Academy Awards last year. Even former Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal said in 2014 that the “whole system is geared for [female filmmakers] to fail.”

But they have reached a tipping point. “There’s been a building outrage, whether it’s with Ava DuVernay or the pay gap that was revealed in those Sony leaks,” says Migdal. “It’s led women to say, ‘This happened to me, and now I realize it’s part of a bigger systemic pattern. That, I think, is why women are reaching out to us now.”

The problem is not isolated to directors; behind the camera, only 17% of all directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250-grossing films are women. Women are also far less likely than men to graduate from critically-lauded independent features to bigger budget studio movies, according to a Sundance and Women in Film study that found that award-winning female directors rarely lead to the kind of studio opportunities a man would get. Women like Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring) are very much the exception to the rule.

“There’s this idea that men can direct films about women, but women can’t direct films about men,” says Migdal. While Paul Feig can direct the women-centric hit Bridesmaids and Judd Apatow has directed the upcoming Amy Schumer film, Trainwreck, women aren’t given the same opportunity for action films or male-driven dramas like The Imitation Game or American Sniper. “I think people thought when Kathryn Bigelow won her Oscar women would finally get that opportunity. But statistically speaking that hasn’t happened.”

And even female actors struggle for the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Leaked Sony emails revealed that stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were being paid less than their male counterparts in films, despite having equal or more screen time. The two problems are, of course, related: when fewer women write and direct films, movies are less likely to tell women’s stories and consequently fewer robust female roles are available.

Even though 2013 research found that movies that passed the Bechdel Test—a simple analysis that measures whether two women speak to each other in the film about something other than a man—made more money at the box office, studio executives continue to assume that audiences don’t want to see films made by and about women.

Hollywood insiders generally think of women’s films as “niche,” according to recent study from the University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative. And that view persists despite the massive box office success of female-centric films like Frozen, Gravity and The Hunger Games, which are consistently considered flukes.

Legal action may now force studios to consider and hire female directors as a higher rate—but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be happy about it. “As a lawyer, I will take grudging hiring over non-hiring,” says Migdal. “That’s where change starts.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

You’re More Likely to Be Enthusiastic at Work If You Have a Female Boss

That applies whether you're a man or a woman

Women managers have an advantage over their male peers when it comes to motivating employees, researchers say.

A Gallup study, State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, found that 33% of employees are engaged when a woman runs the show, compared to 25% with a man at the helm.

Female managers also tend to be more enthusiastic about their own jobs than their male counterparts.

Gallup found 41% of female managers feel engaged at work compared to 35% of male managers.

The study also found that women managers were more enthusiastic at work than men, regardless of whether they had children.

When it came to same-sex management, the study found that female employees were on average more likely to feel involved in their work (35%) if their boss was a woman, compared to just 25% of male employees who show enthusiasm with a male manager.

The study also found women were better at encouraging their subordinates’ development, checking in on their employees’ progress and tended to provide more positive or constructive feedback.

Gallup says it hopes the results will encourage organizations to hire and promote more women managers. Currently only one third of Americans have a female boss.

TIME World

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Goes Blonde in Solidarity With Spokeswoman Called ‘Dumb Blonde’

Posted photo of himself with blonde hair with the caption "we're all blonde"

The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey went blonde on Instagram Thursday after the mayor of Ankara ridiculed American spokeswoman Marie Harf as a “dumb blonde.”

Ambassador John Bass posted this photo to Instagram Thursday, apparently using Photoshop to color his dark hair blonde (it doesn’t appear to be hair dye, but it’s not immediately clear) along with the caption “we’re all blonde.”

#ABD'li diplomatlar: hepimiz #sarışınız. #American diplomats: we're all blonde.

A photo posted by John Bass (@amerikanbuyukelcisi) on

It was an apparent retort to now-deleted tweets posted Wednesday by Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, who referred to Harf as a “blonde girl” as he called her out for previous criticism of Turkish police crackdowns on public protests in 2013. He said that criticism is now hypocritical in light of the American police response to the protests in Baltimore. Gokcek tweeted a picture of Harf’s face next to a headline that said, “Where are you, dumb blonde, who said Turkish police used disproportionate force?” and added a comment in English that said, “come on blonde, answer now.”

Harf declined to comment on the Twitter insults, telling reporters she wouldn’t “dignify them with a response.”

TIME celebrities

Kristen Stewart Calls Hollywood ‘Disgustingly Sexist’

Kristen Stewart attends the Film Independent at LACMA screening and Q&A of 'Clouds Of Sils Maria' in Los Angeles on April 3, 2015.
Araya Diaz—Getty Images Kristen Stewart attends the Film Independent at LACMA screening and Q&A of 'Clouds Of Sils Maria' in Los Angeles on April 3, 2015.

The actress calls Hollywood "disgustingly sexist"

Actresses like Helen Mirren and Patricia Arquette have openly spoken out against sexism in Hollywood, and now Kristen Stewart is chiming in as well. In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, the actress noted that “women inevitably have to work a little bit harder to be heard. Hollywood is disgustingly sexist. It’s crazy. It’s so offensive it’s crazy.”

Stewart’s comments come on the heels of similar ones made by Carey Mulligan, who decried the lack of female-driven films in a recent interview. Mulligan, who called Hollywood “massively sexist,” lamented the fact that her forthcoming film Suffragette took so long to get to the big screen. “It’s such a reflection of our film industry that the story hasn’t been told yet,” Mulligan said of the feature, which focuses on women fighting for the right to vote in Britain.

For more on Stewart, head to Harper’s Bazaar UK.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

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