Where Are All The Female Entrepreneurs?
In the modern gig economy, working for yourself is becoming the crème de la crème of careers. No other job quite captures the modern appetite for independence, hard-won success, and occupational passion like that of the entrepreneur’s. Today’s entrepreneurs are known for their no-nonsense attitudes, brilliant minds, and ability to look beyond what is common in our lives and see something new in the future.
However, although there are many inspiring women in business, today’s entrepreneurs are also predominantly male. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg: most young people who are starting their own businesses around a unique vision are men. A study showed 12 percent of men as self-employed in the preceding year. Among women, a little over half that number worked for themselves at 7 percent self-employment.
As with many things in the world of business, there is a stark gender gap among entrepreneurs. However, while you can explain the lack of representation and pay gaps in conventional work mostly in terms of sexism within corporate institutions, tackling the gap among the self-employed calls for a different approach.

Where Are All The Female Entrepreneurs?

1. Why There Are So Few Female Entrepreneurs

The reasons behind the gender gap in entrepreneurship are as many and varied as the reasons for sexism anywhere else in society. In spite of this, we can hone in on a few major points, cash these out in real-world terms, and find our way towards solutions.
Perhaps one of the most visible contributors to the gender gap has to do with something completely outside of being an entrepreneur. I’m talking about the tech industry. The vast majority of modern startups center themselves around novel tech ideas in some way. Major corporations like Uber, Square, and Pinterest all started as small businesses built around a creative application of technology to people’s daily lives.
These days, with huge corporations already entrenched in older domains, there is both room and opportunity in business (namely the tech industry) for creative individuals with powerful ideas to turn their visions into corporate giants. However, women are severely underrepresented in technology and practically all STEM fields. As of 2014, a mere 18 percent of computer sciences majors were women.
The topic of why there are so few women in STEM has been covered at length elsewhere, so I don’t have much to say about that. What matters here is the upshot: a tech background is almost a necessity when it comes to making it as an entrepreneur these days. Thus, a dearth of women in STEM begets a dearth of women in startups.

2. How Women Could Help

Obviously having a great representation of women through small businesses would be an achievement in and of itself. In addition, a look at the state of some former male-headed start-ups suggests that greater representation of women in this field is a necessity.
Just take a look at Uber, the app-based taxi service. Uber’s CEO was recently forced to resign following revelations of a toxic and incredibly sexist company culture. It’s unlikely that Uber is alone in this, although they may be alone in the light of day at this moment.
Startups are famous for the growing pains that go hand-in-hand with their rapid expansion. No company can go from a garage and a few servers to a metropolitan skyscraper without suffering a few awkward bumps and bruises along the way. However, when you factor in the frat culture of many young companies and the heavily skewed gender background of STEM careers in general, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Greater representation of women in STEM companies means that these little bumps and bruises won’t grow into anything bigger. When women watch out for women, these things don’t get a free pass, and companies like Uber shape up before reaching a disastrous state.
[RELATED: Why Women Excel in Business and STEM]

3. What We Can Do

There’s the old saying from Gandhi: be the change that you want to see in the world. I don’t think there’s any more relevant application of it than here. Entrepreneurship is all about having an inner drive to succeed, something that women in business have in fierce quantities.
If you’d like to see more women in startups, then be the change that you want to see in the world and make it happen. Take that passion and work it into a powerful business idea that you can use to shape the industry. Learn to start a business from nothing, find like-minded women, and lead by example. Encourage young girls to go for science and technology careers and support them.
Women in startups today face old-school sexism and suppression from STEM studies. However, this shouldn’t be something that gets us down — this should inspire us to be pioneers. After all, changing the world is just what entrepreneurs do.

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