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Promoting the feminine entrepreneur
Transcendental Meditation News, UK Translate This Article
30 November 2014
The role of Transcendental Meditation in cultivating an authentic entrepreneurial style for women was described in a presentation from UK educator Arabella Higgins to the fourth international conference of the Alliance of Women Scientists and Scholars for a Better World, held at MERU in Holland from 21-24 July. The theme of the conference was: The World Is As We Are: Culturing The Inner and Outer Environment to Realize Our Full Human Potential.
Arabella, who attended the Maharishi School in Skelmersdale, Lancashire from 1988-2001, went on to gain a BSc (Psychology) from the University of Leeds and MPhil from the University of Cambridge. Having produced programmes for Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, who run workshops for the World Bank, Coca Cola, and the Asian Development Bank, she has also worked with the David Lynch Foundation to implement the Quiet Time programme for inner-city schools in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Currently teaching at RIS Swiss Section School, Bangkok, Arabella has collaborated with UNESCO to research Thai female students' perceived competency to become entrepreneurs. And, she says, the picture there is strikingly different from the UK.
''Entrepreneurship is something very natural to women here,'' she told Transcendental Meditation News. ''And the model of the way they do business is unlike the West.''
Gender traits in business success have been a hot topic this summer, with controversial research from the University of Michigan recommending that women should exaggerate their masculine traits in order to get ahead—advice with which Arabella would heartily disagree.
''The previous perception of feminism is pushing women to be highly successful, and matching men; but really, it was pushing women to act like and be like men. Women are encouraged to become entrepreneurs by adopting a masculine model, and being more aggressive. Is this truly feminism by suggesting that success is giving up feminine qualities?'' she asked.
Entitling her presentation ''Redefining the Entrepreneur: Feminine Strength in a Buddhist Culture,'' Arabella described the high level of entrepreneurial activity amongst women in Thailand. Thailand is unique, as it is one of the few countries where the numbers of male and female entrepreneurs are equal.
''Female leaders and business women don't have to adopt aggressive tactics here,'' she says. They are very in tune with their own values, she emphasises, and can behave in a feminine manner and still be respected as successful, multimillion dollar entrepreneurs.
Historical precedents help to some extent—''traditionally, women have often been in control of the finances; men have gone out to fight the wars or serve the King, and women stayed behind and operated the businesses.'' But Thailand is also 95 per cent Buddhist, and is ''a very collectivist culture,'' says Arabella. ''It holds spirituality in high regard, and the driving force behind many businesses is the community.''
''Female entrepreneurs will often view the business as a family, bringing employment and supporting the community; it's not just about themselves, it's about bringing a livelihood to those less fortune. It's thinking beyond the bottom line to create something sustainable.''
The business model is better for entrepreneurs' own families as well. ''You can choose your hours, and that seems to be the reason a lot of women have started up their own business, they wanted to start a family and have that flexibility.''
Enabling female entrepreneurs worldwide to develop the confidence to be successful without sacrificing their own values is where Transcendental Meditation and all of Maharishi's consciousness-based programmes come in, says Arabella, by cultivating action from a level of silence which brings success and fulfilment to the individual and the community. The theme is further explored in forthcoming articles with leadership consultants New Mavericks who work with billion dollar businesses across the world (www.newmavericks.com).
For more information see Alliance of Women Scientists website
Copyright © 2014 Transcendental Meditation News, UK
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