Women Entrepreneurs Are More Fearful of Failure, Report Says

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A new report highlights the global confidence gap between women entrepreneurs and their male counterparts. How can we close it?  By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Failure, prospective founders are repeatedly told, is a natural part of the entrepreneurship game and you need to get over your fear of it if you really want your startup dreams to soar. But does the confidence to risk failure generally come easier to men than to women?

That’s the question raised by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women's Report. Though the investigation of women entrepreneurs around the world found there were a whopping 126 million active female entrepreneurs operating businesses around the world, it also uncovered a thought-provoking gender gap when it comes to confidence and fear of failure. The report notes:

It is notable that in every single economy in the sample, women have lower capabilities perceptions than men. The region with the highest average level of perceived capabilities among women is Sub-Saharan Africa (73%), while Developed Asia (16%) show the lowest regional average.

Fear of failure is assessed in those seeing opportunities for entrepreneurship. In every region, women have, on average, a greater level of fear of failure than men. This indicator is lowest among women in the Sub-Saharan Africa region (25%), followed by Latin America/Caribbean (31%). In contrast, regions with the highest perceived fear of failure include Developed Asia (47%), Israel (52%), and Developed Europe (45%).

What makes this confidence gap even more troubling is that it’s clearly not down to a gap in education. "Even though women may have more years of education, it may not relate to self-perceived confidence in their entrepreneurial capabilities," Candida Brush, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College and author of the report commented. "In developed economies, entrepreneurship is opportunity-driven and women, who are well-schooled in other disciplines than entrepreneurship, may question their ability to identify, assess and act on an opportunity."

Interested in more details on the report’s findings? Check out the Inc.com write up.

Want to boost your own confidence? If you are a tech startup with less than $1M in funding and at least one female founder, apply to our startup competition

If more school isn’t the answer to boosting women’s entrepreneurial confidence, what is?

jstillman 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 @entrylevelrebel.