Thursday, March 28, 2013

National Museum of Women's History: An exhibit on female entrepreneurship

To honor Women's History Month, the National Museum of Women's History (NMWH) has collaborated with Microsoft on an exhibit exposing the history of female entrepreneurship. The exhibit, "From Ideas to Independence: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women" explores the challenges and triumphs of business ownership through the years.

Founded in 1987, NMWH is the only museum on our shores that celebrates women's accomplishments through art. Unfortunately, it's the first I hear of it but will plan a visit to the museum when I make my way to the east coast this summer.

On its website, the museum boasts of holding a collection of 4,500 displays and a library and research center. There are ten major exhibits held every year, along with events and a learning curriculum is available free of charge to the public.

Through some networking with the museum, Microsoft developed the idea for the new exhibit. It showcases the evolving nature of female entrepreneurship using the 20th century as a starting point. The goal is to highlight the ups and downs of launching a business from the female perspective, although these challenges are naturally gender neutral.

But women have had to face different circumstances. Made to believe their role was confined to the kitchen, they have historically faced cultural and social obstacles whenever they showed a little independence. This is especially true when it came to working outside of the house. During WWII, as fathers and husbands were dispatched to distant lands to fight the war, women entered the workforce to support their families. Instead of support, they found discrimination. Earning extra money during hard economic times encouraged women to launch their own businesses at a time when the domestic life was made to be their first priority. Anyone who has tried running a business while caring for a family understands the hardships these women faced.

Technology has made that work-life balance a reality. Anyone with access to the Internet can launch their own virtual shop, and business transactions can happen with a click of a keyboard. All the time allowing women to run their errands and nurture their kids.

Microsoft's partnership focuses on technology's role in helping women attain their goal for economic independence. Without technology, women's talents and ideas would have been limited to the local market. The Internet now encourages business expansion from the luxury of one's home.

Here is the link to the exhibit: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women. Enjoy.

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