Differences between men and women entrepreneurs


What are the differences (if any) between men entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs? Do they become entrepreneurs for the same reasons or for different reasons? Does a certain gender tend to run their business differently than the other gender? As a general rule, do they have different leadership styles? These are all questions we are going to explore this week.

In 2007, the Small Business Administration released a study by Erin Kepler and Scott Shane entitled, “Are Male and FemaleEntrepreneurs Really That Different?” A sample of 685 small business entrepreneurs were surveyed about their businesses’ performance, their expectations, motivations, etc. and conclusions were drawn about gender similarities and differences. A second study, released in 2012, “Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?” (J. McGraph Cohoon, Vivek Wadhwa, Lesa Mitchell) also focused on the differences between men and women entrepreneurs. (This link takes you to the abstract of the study – click on “Open PDF in Browser” at the top of the page to see the full study.) Read through the introduction and findings of both of these studies. (You can scan the rest.) Are you surprised by the findings or are they what you expected them to be? Do you agree that they are accurate? Did any findings in one study differ from the other in any significant way?

Sharon Hadary, the former and founding executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why are Women-Owned Firms Smaller than Men-Owned Firms” in which she explores the reasons why the average revenues for majority women-owned businesses are only 27% of majority men-owned businesses (according to 2008 data). Having read the two studies previously mentioned, do you think that this data is expected or unexpected? Do you agree with Ms. Hadary’s analysis and assertions?

Do you think size and revenue are the best indicators of success and equality among businesses of different genders? Doug Hickok, CEO of the Institute for Provocative Leadership wrote an article on his blog, “Journal Gets It Wrong/Right About Women Business Owners”. What do you think about his opinions about women business owners and Sharon Hadary’s article? What do you think the differences in size and revenue of women-owned and men-owned businesses show about the differences in their motivations, expectations, performance, etc.?

Recently, researchers looked at 90,000 projects on Kickstarter.com, and analyzed their success. Listen to the NPR segment here to hear their findings about why there are less women entrepreneurs than men. Do you agree or disagree with the findings? Do you think that the male and female traits they discuss really make a difference in their choices to become entrepreneurs and the success they will achieve? This Forbes article also looks at traits of entrepreneurs by gender. What do you think? How will these traits translate into entrepreneurial success?

Are there differences in the way men and women lead? Will each gender tend to run their business differently from the other? Read Magaret Heffernan’s article, “Men Dominate, Women Orchestrate” to hear her thoughts on the differences in gender leadership styles. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think that leadership style can be categorized by gender, or are there too many other variables?

Catalyst conducted a study on the stereotyping of men’s and women’s leadership styles and how that affects perception and reality in work situations. Read the summary and findings about the study, “Women” Take Care,” Men “Take Charge:” Stereotyping of U.S. Business Leaders Exposed.”  What do you think of the findings? Does it make you think of the two previous articles differently? Are there any aspects you disagree with?

After reading the above studies and articles, and using your prior knowledge and experiences, discuss whether you think there are differences between men and women entrepreneurs or not? And if so, how do they affect the success and prosperity of a company? Do you think one gender is better equipped to run a business than the other? This article suggests findings that that may be the case. However, this articlegives reasons for a different viewpoint. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think that certain gender traits will make certain aspects of the entrepreneurial venture easier for one gender or the other? What have your experiences been with male and female business leaders?

Also, consider your own experiences thus far. We have both men and women in this course. Do you think you learn differently? Process information differently? See the world differently? Or do you think that the male and female experience is much more uniform than it has been in previous generations? Do you think that the world is changing, and future entrepreneurs may not exhibit the current differences that are being studied now? Or do you think that experiences are still different for men and women?