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NOT An April Fool’s Joke: The Status of Women in Leadership, Business and Entrepreneurship

Sheryl-Sandberg

Women’s continued under-representation in the upper echelons of most high-status work environments constitutes a significant stall in progress towards gender equality.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

If reading Sheryl Sandberg’s memoir has taught us anything, it’s that knowing what the latest studies on gender, leadership and success have to say is important for the advancement of women in the world. Knowing what double standards exist, while painful, is necessary to create the change we need to see in the world.

Recent research on the role gender, technical background and social capital play in venture capital evaluation demonstrates the role gender plays in evaluating women entrepreneurs for startup funding.

Below are some of the points made by the study that should be jokes from the days of yore, but are not.

#1 – Women CAN be more ambitious.

The study’s opening line declares that “Women’s continued under-representation in the upper echelons of most high-status work environments constitutes a significant stall in progress towards gender equality.”

When Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist memoir was getting in the media, we kept hearing “women are not ambitious”. Now this is a tricky term because it immediately places women on the defensive. Instead, let’s look at the reason why Sheryl Sandberg wrote her memoir – there are not enough women leading governments and corporations, and we need more women working their way to the top to change the situation for women in the workplace and in the home.

#2 – Success for women – it’s NOT luck.

The study states “whereas men’s success at a male-typed task reinforces beliefs in their competence, women’s success appears inconsistent with performance expectations and is often attributed to factors such as luck.”

Let’s stop discrediting powerful women entrepreneurs and executives with the “luck” brush-off and admit it – these successful female executives smart, brilliant and deserving. Hedging and questioning of the women who made it to the top is unnecessary.

#3 – Be friendly, especially with those who control the purse-strings (read: VCs).

For entrepreneurs, the study shares that “social connections in the industry can help one gain access to and favorable impressions and funding decisions from venture capitalists.” Entrepreneur Aihui Ong forged relationships with VCs by volunteering her time at Women 2.0.

“I got to know many investors over those three years of volunteering and it made it easier to reach out for help,” she wrote in a blog post about raising $650k in funding recently.

For the corporate world, “women are more likely to be promoted when in possession of many close, strong ties to superiors rather than diverse, weak ties from which men typically benefit.” So for those climbing the corporate ladder, impress your superiors and they will promote. They should, or find someone who will sponsor your success and ascent at the company.

Happy April!

Now that Women’s History Month is over (and this year’s arguably one of the worst months for women in tech ever), let’s keep marching on and sharing the latest research and findings about how women can get ahead. A rising tide floats all boats. Let us know about news on women by emailing [email protected].

Happy April – may this month be a good one!

Women 2.0 readers: What is your take on the current status of women in leadership, business and entrepreneurship?


125x125_Angie_ChangAngie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.