Wall Street Journal
RE: What’s Holding Back Women Entrepreneurs?
May, 17, 2010
I was fascinated by your report on the complex dynamics affecting the revenue and growth of women owned-businesses. As I have worked globally with women for the past nine years, I have seen the powerful limiting impact of cultural expectations, existing bureaucratic structures and self-image upon woman entrepreneurs. A woman’s experience can be remarkably similar in Kenya and Kansas, adjusting for scale. Thank you for articulating some of those challenges.
The most powerful paragraph in your article for me is the one describing gender differences in reasons for starting a business: while men want to be the ‘boss’ and to be ‘big’, women are more likely to seek personal challenge and make it a priority to integrate their careers with their family relationships. This research excites and encourages me because it validates the powerful potential of the woman business owner to redefine what leadership means in the corporate sector and to create some healthy change in this economic paradigm.
The events unfolding before our eyes on Wall Street and in the oil-soaked Gulf at this very moment have exposed the danger of defining success only in terms of financial gain at any cost . Your report would indicate that women could lead the way in modeling a more balanced bottom line, one which integrates personal well-being, family commitments, community connections and environmental sensitivity. This is the real potential of feminine leadership – creating a new sustainable paradigm rather than learning to thrive within the old boy’s club.
Indeed it is vital for women to access capital, markets, training and existing networks. Even more importantly, women need to see – and read - that their more balanced and integrated choices are not a sign of failure but define a new kind of success which may actually allow the whole planet to thrive. I look forward to the day when women entrepreneurs see that validation reflected back at them from the pages of the Wall Street Journal.