Women Entrepreneurs As Economic Drivers

The recently released paper, "Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers," from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation outlines ways women's development growth of high-growth companies is hindered and how it could be fostered. 

Study author and VP at Kauffman Lesa Mitchell says in a statement, "There are plenty of highly qualified women in science and technology – industries from which the majority of high-growth companies are born. More women are entering these fields than ever before. However, while women have broken through the glass ceiling, they seem to encounter ‘glass walls' that keep them from venturing out of big companies or structured academic settings to launch their own firms at the same rate men do."

Patents were one area where women hold back--only patenting their research at only about 40 percent  as much as males in the same industries.  Furthermore, 93 percent men in the study served on science advisory boards of high-tech companies, as compared to only 6.5 percent of women.

"Women's entrepreneurship is an economic issue, not a gender-equity issue," Mitchell said. "As more women engage as entrepreneurs to build on their discoveries, new jobs and economic prosperity will follow."

Mitchell recommends three steps to kick-start women in bigger businesses:

  • Not-for-profit initiatives that advance opportunities for high-growth women entrepreneurs need greater funding and support from women executives, philanthropy leaders and industry. Networking and collaborative events between startup founders and big companies are critical to provide women entrepreneurs access to networks that can produce potential customers.
  • Successful women entrepreneurs and inventors should make themselves visible and available. Role models are critical to young women considering entrepreneurship.
  • Women must be invited at a much higher rate to join science advisory boards of high-tech companies.