02-Nov-2010 13:22

Are there more male than female entrepreneurs?

I recently read a report in a Business Magazine about the dearth of women entrepreneurs involved in technology - & specifically in my industry, telecoms.

The research I scanned (there was pages of it!) basically showed:

The average age of a successful technology company startup founder was 39 (which seems to disprove the myth that technology startups are all by university students or college drop-outs or twenty-something year olds) & there were far more men than women starting new companies.

Overall, apparently, company founders, both men & women, were normally married with 2 or more children; & had approximately six to 10 years work experience - not necessarily within the industry.

The research I saw also interestingly showed that there was almost no difference between men and women company founders in the following:

• Both men & women had a desire to build wealth.

• Both men & women founded companies to profit from on business ideas.

• Both men & women were tired of working for a boss & wanted self-employment.

• Both men & women wanted to own their own businesses.

• Both men & women average ages at startup were the same.

• Both men & women were equally likely to have dependants & children when they started their businesses.

Now, I have no idea if the above research is in any way accurate, but my experiences dealing with successful telephone, technology & computer companies over the last 15 years or so is that; at middle management I meet quite a few women but at senior, director and owner-founder levels I meet very few women.

Are my experiences a true reflection on reality in the workplace, & if the above reports are correct (& I wonder why that may be), should it even be considered a problem?

Any ideas?

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Contributed by Annabel Kaye on 04-Nov-2010 11:20
Fascinating Les you definitely have something there with your causal chain

I started Irenicon 30 years ago so that I could earn what I felt I was worth and do what I was good at, rather than keep asking the boss for a pay rise more responsible work etc.. And occasionally so I could visit the pub when I wanted to!!

The great thing about being the boss is the merging of work and play - the big problem about being the boss is the merging of work and play

I didn't start a hi tech business because I wasn't a high tech person!
Contributed by Les Potton Chartered FCIPD ACII on 04-Nov-2010 11:05
What made me set up in business......mmm good question.
I think the main one was to have freedom to choose how I spend my time.
Its made me realise that if you enjoy what you do and the motivation is there to get the job done, clocks and buildings are unecessary for a lot of the time.
Work and non-work starts to blur.

In terms of HR work, my main philosophy is that all behaviour has a reason, and before dealing with behaviour, you need to get to the core of the reason.

I must admit, when you read the Human Instinct stuff, it does provide a lot of logical explanation for behaviour, which we have then made more sophisticated by adding culture and morals, but when under pressure a lot of people revert to instinct.

Just thought of a little causal chain for behaviour ....

instinct + values + environment = behaviour
Contributed by SimplyFone Blogger on 04-Nov-2010 11:05
Oops - forgot to mention Annabel...

I was posting my comments FROM the pub
Contributed by Annabel Kaye on 04-Nov-2010 11:03
Norman, sounds like it's coming up time for a trip to the pub!!
Contributed by Annabel Kaye on 04-Nov-2010 09:46
I find Robert Winston's work fascinating.

What I also find fascinating is how ideas shape our behaviour - for example there is a lot of good and bad that comes from the idea of 'man the hunter' - everything from responsibly feeding your kids to justifying violence and aggression as beyond our control.

We all seek to act in accordance with our ideals and beliefs - although those beliefs may vary!

I am equally intrigued by how people's views of employment law shape their behaviour, regardless of whether their belief is correct. I meet business owners every day who dread dismissing someone and yet when we talk for a few minutes we find a straightforward way to solve their problem! Their beliefs have prevented them from seeking or finding a solution.

We lived in a world of ideas (or cultural memes as the philosophy and sociology bods call them). Some people use their ideas to justifying killing other people, others like the great Bob use their ideas to help thousands of people. It is extraordinary the power of an idea....

What ideas help you in your HR work or made you set up in business?
Contributed by SimplyFone Blogger on 04-Nov-2010 09:38

I am unsure if your 'observations' are correct, but to be honest your 'woman hunter - lazy man' scenario actually sounds rather appealing to me ;-)
Contributed by Les Potton Chartered FCIPD ACII on 04-Nov-2010 09:34
I will defer to your greater knowledge. But Bob was a good read :)
Contributed by Annabel Kaye on 04-Nov-2010 09:34
My observation of tribal/hunting cultures is that the women plant food, gather food, and process it.
The 'hunters' sit around drinking beer or whatever the local hootch is, go out occasionally, sometimes find game, sometimes not.
I am sure our successful survivival was not predicated on 'man the hunter'...:-)
Our diet was 'gathered' and supplemented by occasonal carrion finds and kills until we invented agriculture.....
Contributed by Les Potton Chartered FCIPD ACII on 03-Nov-2010 22:22
I think Uncle Bob was also a messenger of that theory !........:) Early man who take risk gather more food !
Contributed by Annabel Kaye on 03-Nov-2010 22:22
Statistically the majority of new businesses in the UK are started by women (even if they are not the majority of new technology starters) and have been for some time.
Of course you could argue that for women being the boss is a lower risk than having a boss!

It does seem to be a fact that the female brain properly computes risk by the age of 19, whereas the male brain does not do so until as late as 25. There appears to be some hormonal base to this difference. Historically this has allowed generation after generation of young men to be used as cannon fodder. It is also what makes young male drivers so much more likely to be involved in a serious accident.

I am not sure what evolutionary advantage their might be for young women to attract mates who die shortly thereafter! Unless you view father's as an inherent risk factor to their children this makes no sense.

But my guess is that Robert Winston is a better physician than behavioural psychologist..:-)
The fact he is a expert obstetrician does not mean he is expert on everything...though I have the greatest respect for his reproductive work.. the issue of cognition and propensity for risk is likely to vary more on an individual scale than on a gender one - there are some highly adventurous risk taking women and some quite timid and conservative men!
Contributed by Les Potton Chartered FCIPD ACII on 03-Nov-2010 22:20
I have just read "Human Instincts" by Robert Winston.
He states the theory that men are genetically more likely to take risks than women ?? ..... Apparently, risk taking has been a factor in attracting a mate through our evolution ........... Dont shoot the messenger !
Contributed by Julie Anderson • on 03-Nov-2010 16:46
Well i'm one and feinitely female ! I have three businesses and have sold 4 before my current position as Director of RAP commercial Interiors. Anyway i thought i read that women rule the world ..... now this will get a response no doubt !
Julie Anderson
Contributed by Laura Bazile on 03-Nov-2010 14:10
Hi Norman,
Love your words! Excellent re-digest and self-analysis and you are right, this (eg male entrepreneurs vs women) should NOT be a problem.
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