Real Conversations with Women Business Owners
Katharine Kurfurst

October 4, 2018

The national conversation about the challenges that women face in various industries is one that hits close. In 2017, 73% of Ventures entrepreneurs were women. While the national conversation has taken a systemic focus, this event is an opportunity to acknowledge the fact that we can also skill-build from inside the community.

Real Conversations is about what it is like to own a business as a woman. Join Ventures and the Washington Women’s Foundation for Real Conversations with Women Business Owners on Tuesday, October 16 from 11 am – 1 pm. This Q&A event features a panel of prominent women business owners and leaders sharing their stories.


We’ll discuss the challenges we face and the best and worst practices for addressing them. Our goal is to empower women entrepreneurs with the tools and confidence they need to position themselves well in their industries and advocate for themselves in the marketplace.

Bring your questions and concerns. We’ll bring the lunch. Our moderator, Toyia Taylor, We.App, will pose questions to the panel and then invite attendees to raise their own. We got a head start and asked our panelists a question:

Why should women know how to advocate for themselves in the marketplace?

Louise Chernin

“If women do not advocate for themselves, no one else will. I think the attitude in the workforce often is ‘how low can I pay her and still have her accept the job‘. Whereas for hiring a man, it is often, ‘we need to compensate him well or we’ll lose him.’”

Toyia Taylor

“Today, more than 8.6 million U.S. businesses are owned by women. We generate more than $1.3 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 7.8 million people. However, the average woman isn’t good at owning her accomplishments, and when we do succeed and show up to the negotiating table we are penalized and marked as aggressive, or more blatantly put, “bitchy.” As women, we can’t afford to be silent. Whether it is in the boardroom, classroom or marketplace, we deserve to occupy space and receive compensation for our contributions.”

Melissa Forziat

“The marketplace will change more slowly than we can change ourselves. We have to ask for what we want. Nobody is just going to hand it over. It doesn’t work like that. As women, if we can identify what we need and convince ourselves that we deserve it, we can get it. And that means not avoiding the conversation, not humbling ourselves when it is time to be assertive, not making it look like we are apathetic to our own success. We are part of the system, and one of the ways we can improve the system is by being the best possible representatives for ourselves.”

Laura Clise

“The continued economic empowerment of women is part of an important shift toward more inclusive, innovative and effective organizations. We have all become familiar with the wage gap between men and women as well as between white women and women of color—I’ve often joked with colleagues and friends that it’s our responsibility to advocate for ourselves so that we are data points toward closing the gap, not widening it.”

Amy Michael

“I know a lot of women, including myself, who have spent some part of their lives being the “good girl” who works hard, keeps her head down and waits to be rewarded and recognized only to discover that often, no one comes with that recognition and reward!  We are often fighting against family and cultural training when we take charge of our livelihoods and businesses. It’s not easy. Women business owners are often trailblazers—the space we create for ourselves in the marketplace will not have to be so hard-fought for the wave of women who come next.”

Kristi Brown

“I love the saying ‘if you are not at the table you are on the menu.’ No one is sitting around looking for ways to hold your hand on this journey.  Although we have community and family to build us to higher heights, we need to learn how to speak our truth in front of those it matters the most to and for us to be strategic so that we can learn the systems so that we can change them to suit our needs.”

Ximena Juarez

“Because as women we have the power to move mountains, which means we can achieve anything we want if we are willing to work hard and show what we are capable of.”

Jen Hughes

“It’s beyond compensation conversations—advocating for yourself in the marketplace allows women to get clear on who is part of their tribe and who isn’t. Skills such as negotiation, starting and running a business, serving as a leader within a company or organization all have ripple effects into your life. You become a better decision maker, you know when to walk away, and you have clear boundaries with others and yourself.”

Are you prepared to advocate for yourself in the marketplace? Is there a time when you could have asked for more?

Join us on October 16th for this Q&A catered lunch event so we can have real conversations with women business owners.