Friday, May 21, 2010

I Am Woman, Hear Me Whine

An interesting phenomenon occurred to me while setting menu prices for my home delivery business. I struggled through countless hours, recording ingredient prices for each of my recipes and tallying up the actual cost for preparing each dish. When it came to adding an additional percentage to the cost for labor and skill in execution, I was stumped.

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, my generation of women unabashedly took pride in our feminist power. And yet, having taken a couple of decades away from the work force in order to raise our children, I'm discovering that we have yet to seize ownership of that power when it comes to recognizing our self worth in a monetary sense.

Yes, I make killer cherry cola short ribs that are often requested by friends and family, but how much of their fondness for them is predicated on the fact that I make them? Is it merely the particular combination of flavors in the recipe that they value or my inherent 'flair' in teasing them out and layering them? Do my culinary talents have a dollar value? If so, what is it? How much can I charge before someone calls "foul"? As a born worrier, these questions resulted in numerous sleepless nights, and ridiculously low prices. It was time to call in The Girlfriends.

To my surprise, I learned I am not alone in this predicament. My group consists of several successful small business owners, including a jewelry designer, two event planners, and a project coordinator for charitable giving. In turn, they each admitted initially undervaluing their worth and setting their fees too low. It took time and the evolution of their confidence upon re-entering the work force, to realize they could be charging a lot more for their services and no one would raise an eyebrow.

But here's the rub: why is it that this phenomenon seems to only affect one half of the population--the feminine half. Male professionals seem to have few if any qualms about charging as high a fee as they like. At what point in their lives did they develop this sense of entitlement, and why don't we possess it as well? Is it a result of being male in a patriarchal society? Is self-confidence etched on the y chromosome?

I was allowing these questions to overwhelm me with self-doubt, so taking a deep breath and heeding the words of wisdom from my baby boomer sisters, redoubled my intention to plow thru and just do it. And maybe shoring up my determination to create a satisfying second half to my life, with the help of friends, family, and my new much-appreciated network of readers will be the secret to my ultimate success. I am about to publish the No Reservations Home Page with mission statement, seasonal menus and prices. Keep reading and wish me luck!


  1. Just make every dish a hundred dollars!
    A Male

  2. Really proud of you. And, thanks for connecting all of us....women in transition..... or those of us who have been through this, or who are thinking about it again. XO