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Russian women entrepreneurship. Women presence in Russian business. Women careers and gender stereotypes.

Female internet startups in Russia. Most powerful Russian business women.

A young Russian business woman

The environment for female business in Russia.

The female presence in business is steadily growing in Russia. The statistics registers the annual rise of the Russian female entrepreneurship. As of 2009 Russia was third among all nations in female-owned entrepreneurship activity, according to the report of Ekaterina Lakhova, head of the Women of Russia and a State Duma deputy at UN session.

The main impetus for this shift is the fact that the "big business" style of the Soviet era, where scale was a business’ competitive advantage, is being challenged by smaller, more nimble startups that have the backing of venture capital and seed funds.

Besides there is an environment in Russia where people are already used and not longer afraid of taking a risk and starting own business . The experts say that it is easy to start own business in Russia as never before. New technologies used in various spheres of modern life continue to provide more business opportunities. Besides Russia's economy is increasingly focusing on small to medium business, a record number of which is owned by women.

Why Russian women go in business.

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey research of 2007 reveals that women in Russia are more willing to take entrepreneurial career then men. 22,6% of women as opposed to 18,4% men.

The reason explaining this trend is that Russian women have a high level of education and skills as well as strong social bonds, however employment opportunities that match their qualification are limited, researchers specify. Additionally, there is a still a wage gap - women earn less than men, which motivates them to become their own boss. Women in Russia hold fewer than 10% of top management posts and earn on average 37% less than men in the same jobs. Which is why many start their own businesses or choose to work for multinationals.

What's more, there is the lack of reliable social security for women. Thus many women are forced to take full responsibility for their future and the well being of their children. The economic conditions in Russian make women put more efforts to reach a good standard of living as compared to women in Western Europe.

Women in Russian venture into traditionally female areas and mainly in the service sectors. They choose retail business, business service, public and personal services, travel and catering. Females would hardly start a technologically intensive businesses, building, transport and construction. The majority of Russian female businesses are the successful maintenance of family or male start-up.

A Russian woman-broker

Cracking the glass ceiling.

The number of women holding top positions in business is growing all over the world. A 2010 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Russian Managers Association found that the number of women occupying senior positions in Russian business increased over the last three years, particularly in finance and personnel departments. The survey, "Career Opportunities for Women in Business," noted that women now make up a large portion of chief accountants (93 percent), human resources senior managers (70 percent) and chief financial officers (48 percent). However the number of Russian business women in senior management positions such as president and general director still remains low. There are some reasons to it as well as stereotypes and barriers a career focused woman has to overcome.

The results of 2010 survey made by the Committee of 20 called "Making a career in Russia: how to get to the top? Key motivating factors and barriers to men’s and women’s career development. A view from both sides" shows that women have a number of barriers to progression to the top positions.

Men and women may be equal in certain environments but women have more caring responsibilities by nature. At some point they decide how to balance their lives whether to carry on with job and careers or start a family and have children. Many women at their 30th that have reached the career heights have to make this decision. If they leave a corporate world to start a family and have children it is very difficult for them to come back. 40% women in Russia name the maternity leave as the career "setback" that hinders career development. Paternal care is a rare phenomenon in Russia due to a patriarchal division of gender roles in Russian family yet it is legally possible.

Some of the external barriers to career development are lack of close friends/family support (for 54% of women); negative stereotypes of female bosses (for 53% of women) and informal deals made in typically "male" venues (for 35% of women). 42% of women feel that their first priority is family, 40% consider maternity leave and junior children as career "setbacks"; 40% experience underestimation of their own leadership potential as internal barrier to successful career.

Russian business world is male dominated and it takes a lot to a woman to be successful in business. Gender diversity at the work place is a frequent phenomenon. When a woman is being employed it is always kept in mind that she is not going contribute as much as man could because of the caring responsibilities she has in her family. If a woman is unmarried she is also approached cautiously as she is expected to get married and have children soon and thus halt her career. The questions about future maternity plans almost always take place at the job interview. There is a gender division at the work place in Russia. Certain jobs and positions are taken by men only and would rarely be taken by women and vice a versa. In companies close to the world of finance and economics there would be more men holding top positions. Less ambitions and more flexible women are likely to be taken on middle top positions and males as able to take strong decisions frequently go on top level like CEO.

Internet startups as the most female dominated business sector.

A Russian girl with a laptop

The Russian internet is becoming more and more feminine. The number of women using the internet has grown dramatically, crossing the 60% threshold and creating the right conditions for female-owned and managed IT startups. "Since Internet projects require a minimal threshold and strong communications skills, they are especially easy for women to launch if they have the right tools and mentorship." - Alena Popova, an the founder of Startup Women community thinks. These feminine qualities boost the appearance of new generation of Internet companies all over Russia. Most popular female internet start ups are online clothes and cosmetics boutiques and online shops, handmade and hobbies' supplies stores, blogging for money, various training and education facilities. The IT development world belongs to males.

Most powerful Russian businesswomen.

A Russian oligarch and the wife of the ex-mayor of Moscow, Yelena Nikolayevna Baturina is not longer in the top list of Russian most powerful business woman. According to Russian "Finance" magazine the top 3 positions are held by Olga Zinovieva, first deputy CEO, deputy chairman of the management Board of Interros, a Russian conglomerate with large stakes in mining, metals, energy, finance, retail, real estate and other sectors. Then goes Larisa Kalanda, Rosneft Vice-President (Rosneft is the leader of Russia's petroleum industry) and Elena Karpel, the member of director board and head of the department for pricing and economic expert analysis of Gazprom Company (the largest extractor of natural gas in the world).

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