Maybe Sarah Palin is Getting
Posted: September 11, 2008
Through To Me, After All
In the past 24 hours, I’ve been studying the decline of the # of female entrepreneurs either starting their own businesses or taking their new businesses to the next level. Both the Kauffman Foundation‘s Report on Entrepreneurial Activity and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor‘s 2007 Report on Women & Entrepreneurship indicate an alarming decrease in the # of women globally starting their own companies.
While certain countries, such as Japan and Peru, show an increase in the # of female entrepreneurs, by in large, men are twice as likely to start their own businesses as women. More than that, there are very few dissimilitudes in the way both genders approach business to account for the disparity.
So what’s stopping us?
Well, for one, GEM’s study finds that women tend to be less optimistic about the risk of starting a new business or making a change. This causes women to be less confident about their ventures and as a result, the fear of failure kicks in and results in a flight response.
While fear of failure has often been attributed to killing a women’s drive, and I, for one, am no less of a chicken, in this regard, how do we go about dispelling that fear and ridding it from our consciousness?
Getting personal for a second, when I had a miscarriage earlier this year (from which I’m still reeling from a bit), my gut reaction was what an absolute failure I was. I had a similar reaction when I lost my job, a month after I had my miscarriage. It wasn’t quite as severe, but I the same feelings of shame surfaced again.
I was angry at myself for feeling like a loser, but came to realize, that falling short is perhaps a woman’s greatest insecurity. Just look at how we’re conditioned from our youth to find, not just any Alpha Male to mate with, but the one with the right genetic combination to satisfy the lofty expectations of our family and friends, and if we’re lucky to meet our own. We have to compete with how many other women? (aside from mom, sister and ex-girlfriends?)
So how do we empower women to feel confident and optimistic about change and risk without tapping into their deep-seated fears about their competencies? In short, how do we level the playing field?
The United Nations is working on an initiative called “gender mainstreaming” that is about identifying gaps and bridging understanding in developing countries. In Lativa, women-owned businesses favor hiring women and it’s proved to be an effective way of ushering a new generation of women into the workforce there. And in Finland, women-owned businesses show the most profitability so they are exploring ways to make executive roles more gender-neutral and merit-based. (as opposed to the ‘ol boys network)
With the word “Change” being tossed around like some cheap dime store whiskey lately in presidential campaigning, I’m hesistent to cheapen a sentiment here. Let’s just say the world won’t get better overnight, but progress can and should be made everyday.