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Do Women Make Better Billionaires?

As more women become startup founders, more will end up making a mint. Will they approach giving away their money the same way as guys?

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Startups often generate innovation, cool products and exciting jobs. Very occasionally they also mint billionaires. When the vast majority of founders are men it follows that the vast majority of super rich founders will also be men. More female founders will create, eventually and sporadically, more female billionaires.

Will they super wealthy women dispose of their fortunes the same way as men or will they change the practice of philanthropy?

That’s the question explored on Fast Company last week by Anya Kamenetz in light of Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s decision to sign The Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half her fortune, and the increasingly public profile of the philanthropic work of Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs. Kamenetz writes:

In big philanthropy, as in politics or business, it’s worth asking how or whether having women calling the shots will make a difference in the way things are done. As we’ve seen in our coverage of the League of Extraordinary Women, women seem to stand out for their personal involvement with the causes they support and especially for their commitment to women’s and girls’ economic development.

Feminist philanthropy is not special treatment. Besides the moral imperative to combat widespread violence and exploitation, there’s strong empirical evidence to support the strategy of aiding an entire economy by educating and empowering the female members.

But does the tendency to make giving personal really make for the most effective giving? Or does it cut against the grain of impact analysis and bottom-line-driven accountability?

After citing examples of giving gone wrong from celebrity women like Oprah and Madonna, Kamenetz concludes, “one hopes that Powell Jobs, Blakely, and future women who ascend to positions of real power in the nonprofit world will follow the same tendencies that make women, statistically, better investors than men: a lack of overconfidence, a desire for self-control and financial discipline that stops them from chasing a risky market.” Check out the complete post for much more detail.

Women 2.0 readers: Do you think women tend to have a different approach to philanthropy?

Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.

Photo credit: David Shankbone