Despite a long held myth to the contrary, Women business leaders are as successful as men in starting new high tech companies.
The stereotypical entrepreneur – particularly the Silicon Valley version – is a 20-something, single white male who dropped out of college to work 24/7 and take enormous risks for a shot at becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.
Women entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are thought to be overrepresented in “lifestyle” industries and more focused on raising families than founding the next Facebook.
A study of more than 600 start-up founders and 500+ fast-growth companies published in TechCrunch deflates these myths. Entrepreneur-turned-academic Vivek Wadhwa and his team studied both men and women business leaders and their companies and found the following:
- Men and women start-up founders are motivated by the same goals: Both men and women business leaders are driven by a desire to build wealth, chart their own destinies and capitalize on their business ideas.
- Men and women business leaders largely share life circumstances: Wadhwa found that most entrepreneurs are closer to 40 than 20 when founding their companies and that most are married with children. Men were slightly more likely than women to be married.
However, Wadhwa’s team did discover some interesting differences about the business climate in which male and female entrepreneurs operate:
- Women business leaders receive more encouragement from co-founders: According to the research, women entrepreneurs were significantly more likely than men to report that their co-founders urged them to enter into a partnership to launch a new business.
- Women start-up founders are more likely to cite a role model: Women entrepreneurs more often reported being inspired by an entrepreneurial friend or family member than their male counterparts.
Much of Wadhwa’s research focused on high-tech fields, and he found that the academic representation of women in the computer sciences is low and falling:
It decreased from 37% in 1985 to 19% today, largely because girls do not receive the same levels of encouragement in math and science, and this carries over into higher education and career choices. Wadhwa believes this imbalance should be remedied.
However, a key takeaway from the study is that men and women business leaders have much more in common than is generally believed – both sexes are motivated by the same factors and largely share life circumstances.
Women business leaders and those who aspire to launch an enterprise can therefore take encouragement from the fact that men don’t have an inherent advantage.