Renowned host and philanthropist, Oprah Gail Winfrey once said, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” Although this quote is an essential mantra, evoking feelings of strength and confidence to women of all-ages, it holds an understated naivety regarding the exasperating and demeaning forces that girls and women face while chasing their dreams.
Entrepreneurship is an extremely self-fulfilling, gratifying, exhilarating road to take, and by nature, an entrepreneur is one who is motivated, passionate, and acclimated to incessant risk-taking. With this in mind, it seems that this road chooses girls and boys, men and women, without favoritism or prejudice. However, this is the kind of seemingly logical rationale that leads to women being overlooked in this field and girls raised carelessly against it.
As we all know, there is a sizable gender gap in the world of business, especially in respect to the number of female founders and CEOs. From published studies, it has been found that the lack of females in entrepreneurship is attributed to an abundance of factors from an undersupply of external capital from investors towards female-run businesses to the shortage of female mentors and confidants for young girls. In any case, the “entrepreneurial economy appears to be particularly disadvantageous for women, who are less likely than men to succeed as entrepreneurs”, as stated by two MIT researchers, Jorge Guzman and Aleksandra Kacperczyk.
In my opinion, as a young entrepreneur, I can say with certainty that much of the gender disparity is due to how girls are raised and who they are surrounded by; essentially, the culture and social environment that a girl is raised in. Kashmira Gander, Deputy Science Editor at Newsweek, says, “Women aren't risk-averse—society teaches them to be that way,”
One article, “Girls lose risk-taking confidence by the time they reach adulthood while male confidence grows, study shows,” by Rachael Pells discusses the very intimidation that young girls often face. According to Pells, women have less of an appetite for risk-taking than men because they suffer a significant loss of confidence due to societal pressures during their teenage years. One study performed at the University of Stockholm suggested that females, especially girls, make choices that they believe are expected of them, rather than behaving competitively for their own good. Additionally, due to this unconscious decision making, many girls perform worse in a male-dominated environment if they already have a belief that on average, girls are not as intellectually adept as their male counterparts.
Although research on this subject is very limited, I believe that a significant reason for the gender disparity in entrepreneurship is the way girls are raised and their loss of confidence over the years, which are vital qualities for any successful, risk-taking entrepreneur. It is very important to better understand the reasons behind these disparities in order to correct this systemic issue.