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The Hard Road to Business Success for Women

Updated on March 12, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology


Women have suffered a lot over the years, according to them and in some respects they have not been treated fairly or with equality. Yet that has not always been the case. In the Book of Acts we find Lydia, a rich business woman who dealt in purple cloth. Not much is known about her business activities and wealth beyond the few words used in the Bible but her mentioning tells us that women were not always tied to the home.

In fact we find the rise and fall of woman to be cyclical and dependent upon the cultural ideology of the times women lived. This is evident even in the modern world as women in the workforce took western nations centuries to accept, even though women have always been present in some capacity in western industry and commerce. It wasn’t long ago that the accepted business position for most women was that of being a secretary and had little opportunity to be promoted to other positions.

What this paper strives to do is show that women in history have not all been forced to stay at home but have chances to be equal to the male population of their countries. Then it will encourage women to pursue their passions and turn them into profitable business which will help themselves and their families. Finally, it will also encourage women to fight for equal pay for equal work if they do not become entrepreneurs.

I. Women in Ancient Times

While records concerning women\s roles in ancient society can be sparse, we do find some records or indications that ancient women did not simply cook and sew their existence away. This is so with the Minoan society.

Their language has never been deciphered so what records we do possess are unreadable but the Minoans did leave behind beautiful frescoes and other art depicting their women to be on equal standing as the Minoan man.

Whether they received equal pay for equal work cannot be known yet we can conclude that the topic was surely discussed because no matter what society existed, the difference between men and women are always part of any serious discussion on the role of women in society.

Next we turn to the ancient Egyptian nation. Not always under Islamic rule, the ancient Egyptian women, in some cases, did enjoy a rise to power through different channels. Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Hatshepsut are but three examples of this ascension. How they achieved their rise to power is not totally known though Cleopatra had the good fortune of being born into the royal family. Feminine intrigue is not a modern invention.

Women in Egypt in general did enjoy some legal and economic freedoms. They were allowed to divorce their husbands, own property and participate in commerce by being merchants. They were not restricted to what modern people would refer to as ‘women’s work.’ They had ancient support to pursue their dreams and reach business and financial security. This activity was similar to Assyrian women of the same time period.

Ancient Rome was not as kind to women as the Minoans and Egyptians had been. The Roman women had few rights and little access to outside life including politics. This most likely did not stop women from having some say in political and business affairs. As mentioned earlier, women find a way to manipulate their men into accepting and carrying out their wishes.

The sad fact about what we know about women and ancient Rome is that the main business opportunity outside of the home was that of being a prostitute or selling their vegetables or wares in the street, much like the people of many poorer nations of today do to make ends meet. Many cities in modern South Korea and the Philippines have women of all ages setting up little spots on the different streets trying to earn a little money to offset their daily expenses.

Our final historical look at ancient civilizations turns to Greece. Here, before this country became unified under Alexander the Great, women enjoyed or suffered differently, depending upon which city state they resided. In Sparta, the women were allowed to participate in outside life quite freely, even to the point of owning property.

They could also participate in athletic competition, whereas in Athens there were restrictions upon the amount of property a woman could down and their activities were often restricted to running their households, unless they were poor and their economic situation demand that they find some menial work in the market or helping their husbands.

A study of more ancient societies would continue to show a cyclical nature to the status of woman and that their rise was due more to the forward thinking of their men than any other factor. There were ancient feminists who did strive against the status quo but their names are lost to history.

© 2019 David Thiessen


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