Women still suffer workplace inequalities that hinder their success. Lower rates of pay, a privileged “old boys’ club” and society’s expectations about managing both work and family life can all restrict the trajectory of a woman’s career. In this day and age, such gender discrepancies in the workplace can be disheartening.
But even those who find themselves discouraged and disheartened, can all take a little inspiration from these women.
Their careers didn’t take a linear or fast track path to success. They experienced setbacks or raised families before setting out on the work for which they would become famous. So, if you find yourself on the other side of 40 and ask yourself if success has passed you by, take a look at our list of women who succeeded a little later in life:
What does Carol Gardner, Julia Child, Barbara Baekgaard & Lynda Weinman have in common?
Carol Gardner was 52, newly divorced and struggling financially when she started out on the business idea that would make her millions. She got a dog to try and ease her depression. Later that year she created a greetings card featuring the dog in a Santa hat along with a joke and won a local Christmas card competition. This acted as her inspiration to start a greetings card company, Zelda Wisdom. In 2010 the company was valued at over $50 Million.
The famous TV cook, Julia Child, didn’t even learn to cook until she was 36. Julia had been fired from a home furnishings company for “gross insubordination” and transported top secretdocuments during the war before attending the famous Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in Paris. Along with her fellow students, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, she opened a cookery school and then published a cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which sat on the best seller list for the next five years. Julia was 40 when she achieved widespread fame, through her now renowned cookery show, The French Chef.
Barbara and her friend Patricia Miller started the accessories company Vera Bradley in 1982 when Baekgaard was 42 years old. With just $500 in start-up capital, the pair made handbags from floral quilted cotton sat in Baekgaard’s basement. The company now sells nearly $500 million of handbags, luggage and accessories every year.
Lynda Weinman is the woman behind lynda.com, founded in 1995 when Lynda was 40. The website was designed as a place where students could go to find resources and expanded to become a platform for online classes. 40% of US colleges and universities were subscribed to the service when lynda.com was sold to LinkedIn in April 2015 for $1.5billion.
Franny Martin worked as a marketing professional before starting her website, Cookies on Call, in her mid-50s. After being complimented on her cookie making skills, she launched her own cookie company and made cookies to order. She started baking out of her own kitchen before increased orders led her to find a commercial space. Cookies on Call now ships cookies internationally and Franny also owns two bakeries in Michigan.
Jill Boehler’s big success came in her early 50s. She had worked for the past 30 years as a speech pathologist. After eating dinner in a freezing cold restaurant, she set out to develop a lightweight, wrinkle free wrap that she could keep in her bag. She spent $10,000 researching and investing in the perfect material to optimise warmth but minimise weight and launched her Chilly Jilly wraps in 2007. She has now sold thousands of her products to boutiques around the world.
These women prove that incredible success is possible for women over 40. With the right combination of drive, ability and luck, success could be just around the corner.
About Author: With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.