Women Not Welcome?

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June 13, 2011
Women Not Welcome?

Glass ceilings are universal. Women are discriminated against globally, in terms of jobs, salaries and opportunities. In some countries, it’s the local customs that may block the opportunity to expand women-owned businesses.

“Being an independent woman is not always universally accepted, and in some patriarchal societies, it can be a woman’s constant uphill battle to balance cultural sensitivity and her own independence,” says Lindsay Clark, a former producer and photographer for a nonprofit travel organization.

While in Fiji, her team experienced verbal abuse and forceful opposition while building a foundation for a village business. It can be “a losing battle to try changing someone’s mind” when it comes to different cultures, she says.

Clark says gestures and actions considered friendly in the U.S. can be viewed as offensive, like using an OK sign in Brazil or giving a thumbs up in the Middle East. “Start off safe and let your interactions develop slowly to be less guarded later,” she suggests. Cracked lists what gestures to avoid by country.

Experts advise keeping in mind body language and hand gestures during meetings. “When in doubt, be modest and reserved. Watch other women and base your activity on theirs, or be safe by scaling back even further,” says Clark.

Bonus PINK Link: Check out Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and the woman who will be interviewing top women at our Spring Into Ownership in NYC this Friday, in our exclusive Top Woman Profile.

By Muriel Vega  

“Acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness,
those are life-altering lessons.” Unknown

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