BUSINESS guru Ramona Nicholas has said that Irish women are under-performing in business as a result of pressures to be the perfect mother.
The only female star of investment show Dragons' Den said that a lot of women are plagued by the "guilty mummy syndrome" which puts them under pressure to "conform to society".
And she said that women hold themselves back from reaching their business potential.
The mum of one, who is head of Cara pharmacies and runs 17 stores around Ireland, said she would love to see another female dragon on the male-dominated show, but admitted that it is difficult for female entrepreneurs in Ireland.
"I have seen lots of high potential females not achieve their dreams because they have just conformed to society," Ramona (36) told the Herald.
"Women don't have enough confidence in themselves and they should put themselves to the fore-front and they don't.
"I talk a lot about the 'guilty mummy syndrome', where you think you have to be a mother and you have to be at home, but its about management to balance it all.
"It comes down as well to the balance at home with your partner because a support network needs to be there," Nicholas added.
Nicholas also said that she thrives in a male-dominated business environment and would like to have more children one day.
"I was the only girl in a male chemistry class in school and the girls were always picked on so I had to learn to hold my own from an early age," she said.
While she feels women need to put themselves forward more in business, the Tyrone native was very impressed with one young Dublin entrepreneur, 24-year-old Elaine Lavery.
The Clonskeagh UCD business graduate and her best friend Hannah O'Reilly had all the Dragons talking after they presented their business idea on the show – a range of Irish flavoured butters called Improper Butter.
Elaine and Hannah have built up their business independently of their families and are already supplying stores across the country, including Avoca and Fallon & Byrne.
"Initially at the start we put very little money in, we did farmers markets every week and built it from there, but there are always costs involved and more than you would imagine," Elaine explained to the Herald.