On Starting Businesses

When asked the question, “why do women start fewer high tech startups than men?” some people have responded that women are “less interested in risk-taking” (perhaps genetically — usually the phrase “predisposed” is used, then).

An excellent observation from a person successfully running their own lucrative business[1]:

I think there’s a fallacy that those who start their own businesses or work on their own are somehow born with an “entrepreneurial spirit” that the regular workaday employees just don’t have that. They aren’t “risk-takers”, they aren’t self-motivated, and they just can’t manage themselves.

Why do we get so wrapped up in the idea that business-makers are risk-takers?  And then ardently exclaim that women don’t have this quality?

This strikes me as a double-whammy of cultural self-hinderance — setting businesspeople in a class apart, and women in particular in the class-that’s-not-it.  Why do we set ourselves up that way?  Why even spread the idea?

 

[1] via Leo Babauta at Zen Habits

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One response to “On Starting Businesses

  1. trebuchet03

    “Why do we get so wrapped up in the idea that business-makers are risk-takers?”

    Because businesses can fail. That’s not to say that you can’t get fired working for someone else. But we also associate working for someone else in a large company as “safe.” I personally think it’s more of the attitude that “someone else will make sure I have work” when you work for someone else. If your job is strictly data entry, it’s not your job to get the data to enter.

    “And then ardently exclaim that women don’t have this quality [of being risk takers]?”
    That’s an easy one… Just look at car insurance – a business of risk management. Statistically women get in just as many accidents as men – but the accidents men get in have higher claims due to severity. This is why, in many cases, insurance for men (young men, that is) are higher than those for women thus perpetuating “evidence” of the idea that men take more risks than women.

    “This strikes me as a double-whammy of cultural self-hindrance — setting businesspeople in a class apart”
    I’m with you on that – but the “businesspeople class” tends to perpetuate this (perhaps to curb competition with the young up and comings?). I’ve heard multiple citations of entrepreneurs claiming “we were born that way” in forum type venues.

    I don’t think you’re necessarily born that way… But surely, the motivation is something one is conditioned with. Luckily, this sort of conditioning can happen at any time and isn’t excluded to children :) Of course, this is my opinion – and I strive to be optimistic :p

    “Why do we set ourselves up that way? Why even spread the idea?”
    I obviously can’t speak for women, but I can speak to the spread of old ideas:
    Because that’s the way it has been… And thinking of what “has been” is so much easier than thinking of “what next?”