3 Reasons Why Female Entrepreneurs Are Still Outnumbered
It’s easy to get a skewed version of reality in today’s world. To start, block all users on social media who upset you or who you can’t relate to. Then, choose your news sources carefully so that you only hear what you want (and occasionally need) to hear. Follow that by tailoring your day-to-day life to interact with people who get you, whether that means attending a specific church or the 4:30 yoga class to avoid those people.
As a result, you’ll quickly start curating your world. Sometimes the effects are warm and cozy, and sometimes we build a world that we hate but that we can’t look away from. In either case, the world that’s being constructed is only a sliver of the truth. So, in order to gain perspective, we must fight our tendencies and seek to see the world as it really is, no filters.
For the past year and a half I’ve carefully created my online world, especially in terms of social media (which, despite the perspective I talk about getting, I still believe is a smart way to use the drug that is Instagram). When I scroll through my feeds, I’m inundated by incredible women who I admire and who provide inspiration for my daily cup:
Those #mamapreneurs that are forces to be reckoned with (and who can braid hair like nobody’s business)
Those #travelwithkids families that manage to bring all of their kids with them on a road trip across South America.
Those #businessbabes who juggle writing, entrepreneurship and family like it ain’t no thing.
Which means that, when I do get a dose of reality, whether on purpose or by mistake, it tends to hit me off balance a little more than it should. For example, when I read that less than 40% of all businesses in the United States (36% to be exact) are owned by women, I was surprised. In my world, it feels like every new business is started by women! And, on a global scale, that number is significantly less, especially in terms of entrepreneurship where women often feel less prepared (or supported) to start a business on their own.
I hope that you, like me, understand why this needs to change. There is power in owning a business, an opportunity to shape the world creatively and to re-imagine how it works. By nature, entrepreneurs are problem solvers, which means that the more there are in the world, the more of a chance we have to make the world better. And, considering that women are half of the population, statistically it makes sense to encourage them to step into the role, not because women need to be in power - but because the world needs women in power.
But, what exactly will it take to attract more women into the entrepreneurship?
While I don’t have the answers, I know from personal experience and in talking to other female entrepreneurs that these three things specifically get in the way:
1. Isolation. Being an entrepreneur is lonely. (For example, I’ve been “at work” for the past two weeks straight without ever leaving my home.) Women, by nature, crave interaction and community. While people in general all benefit from personal connection, women really do need to be around people more. Blame it on the fact that women talked with each other while they gathered and the men hunted. Blame it on the differences in our brains or the structure of our jaw. Regardless, the threat of isolation makes entrepreneurship less appealing to women than men.
2. Family. As nurturers and caretakers, women often choose to be the one who provides safety and security to the family. While men are more comfortable taking risks, women, in general, like to think more practically. Since entrepreneurship is risky in many regards (from health care to paychecks), it’s easy to understand why many women never make the leap, especially if their husband or significant other is already in that line of work.
3. Confidence. There are always fewer examples of female entrepreneurs than male entrepreneurs. As such, even the brightest girls with gobs of potential convince themselves that being a business owner or an entrepreneurs isn’t for them. While possible, it’s hard to imagine doing something that no one else is doing. Yes, there are trailblazers, but not everyone has that built-in gumption.
And, while I understand that all of this is a generalization and absolutely doesn’t apply to every situation and individual, there is definitely a significant portion of the female population where these three categories apply. I know personally that these three road blocks are what make entrepreneurship the most challenging; they become the cliffs I have to talk myself down from every time I think about jumping ship and re-joining the masses.
The solution to getting more women in business and in the field of entrepreneurship, in my opinion, lies in solving these three issues. How can we make entrepreneurship more social and interactive? How can we provide nets for women with families who want to make the leap without risking everything? How can we build confidence in women across the United States and around the world?
And, how can we do all of this quickly? Because, in case you haven’t noticed, the world isn’t waiting.