On Sunday the The Upshot section of the New York Times published “Why Women Don’t See Themselves as Entrepreneurs”
The key finding was “research shows that women around the world are less likely to consider entrepreneurship as a career path, largely because they don’t see other women entrepreneurs as role models.”
Another way to say it according to the research: “People with experience mentor and give money to people like themselves, while those starting out do what they see people like themselves doing.”
Women are less likely to have information about how to become an entrepreneur, to see female role models and to know venture capitalists. That leads to stunning disparities in women entrepreneurship:
- Women are about half the labor force, but own just 36 percent of companies in the United States.
- Those who do own companies are half as likely as male founders to employ anyone other than themselves.
- In technology, fewer than 10 percent of start-ups are owned by women, according to another new paper, by researchers at Harvard.
- Just 19 percent of top executives are women, according to a LeanIn.org and McKinsey report.
- A leading reason they don’t rise is because they have few mentors in senior leadership.h companies.
Lack of mentors and role models helps create these trends, but so does bias and closed-off networks.
“The problem when you have five white men who all went to the same business school and worked in the same firms is their networks overlap, so they don’t draw from a very wide source of entrepreneurial deal flow,” said Paul Gompers, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of a study “Diversity in Innovation.”
And while female mentors are key to increasing the number of female founders and business leaders, Sheila Marcelo, founder of Care.com, says:
“Closing the gender gap in business is often a conversation that women have with other women. We absolutely need to provide a supportive community for each other, but if we’re truly going to level the playing field, men have to be part of the equation.