Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers

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

Today, the Kauffman Foundation released a paper on “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers” by Lesa Mitchell. The paper showed hope for women entrepreneurs, reminding us the near future is ripe for an increase in high-growth women entrepreneurs:

There is no current shortage of highly qualified women in science and technology. … Clearly, the United States has a sizable supply of women who possess both the subject-matter knowledge and the leadership skills to run a large, tech-based operation. Which leads us to the second conclusion: “What it takes” to launch and build a high-impact tech startup is different from what it takes to advance within a corporate or academic hierarchy.

Women’s strides toward breaking the glass ceiling are evident — just look at the popularity of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

The Kauffman Foundation calls attention to “glass walls” as impediments for women, asserting that these “glass walls” prevent women from breaking out laterally. This varies from taking academic leave to be founders of a high-growth spinout companies, or from venturing out of the big firms to start something big.

Why Women’s Participation in High-Growth Entrepreneurship Matters

Women 2.0 strongly believes in women’s role in founding startups and creating jobs. The economic role and possibilities for women are outlined in the Kauffman Foundation paper. Here is an excerpt:

Growth companies, especially in high-tech areas, tend to be innovative and additive. They create new industries that grow the pie. We are concerned with what it would take to have women starting generative firms of this type at much higher rates than they now do. The goal is to create more jobs and a stronger new economic platform for all. The notion that getting more women involved in such activity would be detrimental is a myth, rooted in thinking that our economy cannot be larger or more dynamic than it currently is. We need to move beyond both the myth and the economic status quo.

How Male and Female Entrepreneurs Generally Differ

Women’s lack of networking is attributed to failure to recognize the commercial potential of a woman’s idea for a startup or academic research.

Additionally, women who pursue commercialize of research through formal university channels, or turn to a resource for guidance — this lengthens the process of entrepreneurship. Conversely, the Kauffman Foundation reminds us that “the men tended to take further action and to do it more directly from the start.”

Supporters of Aspiring and Early-Stage Women Entrepreneurs

We at Women 2.0 hope we provide the inspiration, education and information brilliant women in academic institutes and large companies need to picture themselves as founders and CEOs, technical co-founders and CTOs.

The Kauffman Foundation study mentions both Women 2.0 and our regular Founder Friday networking events — alongside non-profits like Astia, NewMe, and Kauffman FastTrac — as programs focusing on providing education and networks for high-growth entrepreneurs. Get involved!

Editor’s note: Are you a woman entrepreneur with a success story, a raising star, or a female founder to watch? Do your part and be successful and be known! Role models invite the next generation of entrepreneurs, increasing the chance that young women may consider entrepreneurship. Email [email protected] if you would like to author a guest blog post to be published on Women 2.0.

  • http://www.findyourcoach.com Jeanne

    I agree and I think one of the biggest “problems” is that we as women have not historically been taught that we ARE (can be if we take the chance)business smart, compitent,confident, powerful AND posess different and wonderful stregnths, in business, than men. This somthing we see in the entrepreneur and business coaching that we do – women do not have to be entrepreneurs or busines owners like men or any other. We can start and grow a successful business and make it into EXACTLY what we want it to be – because we can/will/do/have. Let’s do more of that.