It's not tilted any more... nor should it ever be allowed again. Women in business and leading from the front should be the norm. Image Credit: Supplied

The fruit and vegetable industry may not be the first you think of when imagining women pioneers in business.

But, in fact, we’ve had a role model since the 1960's when Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan took on the US wholesale produce business and introduced unheard of fruits such as kiwis, passion fruit, and mangosteen to mainstream America and disrupted a traditional industry with her charisma, enthusiasm, and creativity.

It’s for these reasons that she’s often referred to as the “Mick Jagger of Produce”.

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Break it down

Fast forward to 2021, and we’re seeing women take leadership roles across the spectrum. Not only is Kamala Harris the first woman Vice-President of the US, Jane Fraser is also about to become the first one to run a big Wall Street bank (Citigroup). In the UAE, we have the highest number of female ministers in the Arab world and an example of what women can achieve when given the opportunity to rise.

So, how can we as women continue to overcome gender barriers and outshine in each and every one of our sectors Whether you work in male or female dominated businesses, and regardless of where you find yourself today, you have an opportunity to excel.

Be authentic and let your personality shine

Dr. Frieda had a knack for marketing weird fruits, after all, a kiwi was once just a brown, hairy fruit until she got her hands on it. It was her genuine enthusiasm that made all the difference!

Empathy and vulnerability are a strength

Years of research have shown that women outperform men in almost all of aspects of empathy; so see it as your superpower. When you understand others' feelings, you can understand underlying motivations and can relate on a deeper and more meaningful level.

Join a group and elevate each other

This helps you meet women who are at the top of their sector and genuinely support and build each other up. Go and seek out female role models who inspire and push you to keep trying harder.

Be both...

Self-confident and self-compassionate. Be compassionate with yourself even when you’re struggling with confidence. As women, we tend to doubt ourselves more than men, but if we can be as empathetic to ourselves as we are to others, we are truly invincible.

We have an opportunity like never before to showcase our authenticity and embrace the things that set us apart from our male counterparts. If you think you want to be a prickly pear in a world of smooth pears, now is your time...

- Marie-Christine Luijckx is founder of Fruitful Day and member of Entrepreneurs' Organisation - UAE Chapter.