Guest post by Jennifer Donogh, owner of Ovaleye: Cloud Services, who is pictured with her son at a business planning meeting.
Author's Update: I wrote this blog post prior to the release of Penelope Trunks' latest womenfind it here at Stop Telling Women To Do Startups. There are some notable posts that side with or are in opposition to the opinions Trunk voiced that are worth a read as well. You can find them on Women.20, another piece on TechCrunch, and on Huffington Post to start with. Power Chicks, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Weigh in by commenting below.
Popular business media outlets such as Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur have all run stories asking the question: why don't more women own businesses on the scale of their male peers? Find out what arguments are being had and weigh in on the conversation. American Express OPEN commissioned the "State of Women-Owned Businesses," a report that was prepared by Womenable.
The report estimates that there are over:
- 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the US as of 2011
- They have a total of $1.3 trillion in revenues and 7.7 million employees.
Sounds promising, right? Yet this accounts for only:
- 6% of the country’s workforce… and just under 4% of business revenues.
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When looking at many of the studies that have come out in recent years it's understandable why mainstream media would want to publish pieces that focus on why women are starting, but doing so in a smaller fashion than men. Many of the arguments for the 'why' begins with something like, 'women are starting in the wrong fields for growth.' Jolie O'Dell, former Mashable writer who is currently at VentureBeat, tweeted the following comment…
"Women: Stop making startups about fashion, shopping, & babies. At least for the next few years. You're embarrassing me."
Women aren't starting in tech and when they are, they are starting companies that as O'Dell tweeted, are centered around fashion and children. Forbeswoman ran a followup piece to the @jolieodell tweet that compiled reactions from a number of prominent women entrepreneurs. The article argues that the majority of women felt that…
"Women who take the risk to start their own businesses should be applauded, regardless of whether they’re hawking lipgloss or producing the next generation of photovoltaic cells…"
At the same time, Inc ran a piece titled "Why Women Don't Get Venture Capital: The Bruised Nose Theory." The author, Eileen Gunn who is the CEO of FamiliesGo!, argues that she hasn't asked for funding to make her business into the dream she has for it, because she is a mom.
She explains that because of her child's bloody noses, the flu, and snow days she doesn't have the time that a VC is looking for to dedicate to her company. As the title infers, Gunn explains that women need flexibility to be a mom first and a business owner second.
At the same time last year, TechCrunch was running two controversial pieces on a similar subject. One of which, titled "Men and Women Entrepreneurs: Not that Different," took an opposing view to Gunn's. In it Vivek Wadhwa and Joanne Cohoon of the National Council of Women in Technology worked together to find that "there was almost no difference between men and women company founders."
Their average ages when founding their first companies were the same. Likewise, successful men and women entrepreneurs founded their first companies when they had similar numbers of children living at home, though men were more likely than women to be married.
An interesting part in this study was that "men were more likely than women to be married" when starting their company, which brings us into the last corner of the debate: the spousal role in entrepreneurship. The day before Wadhwa's study was published, TechCrunch ran a guest post from Penelope Trunk titled "Women Don't Want to Run Startups Because They'd Rather Have Children." Penelope Trunk is the founder and former CEO of Brazen Careerist and a blogger who is known to border on controversial at times. She used the post to explain why she was stepping down as the CEO saying that she needed to spend more time on her family and not feel guilty about it. Trunk's argument is more visceral than Wadhwa's. In her experience she has found that there is a difference between male and female run startups stating that "men are more likely to settle when it comes to raising kids."
Before you tell me there are exceptions, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m a magnet for high-powered women with stay-at-home husbands. And when the men aren’t listening, the women always tell me that their men don’t pay enough attention and they (the women) are really running the household. They would never say this to the men. It would de-motivate them. So even the most child-oriented men are not as child-oriented as their wives.
I personally don't agree with any of the opinions presented above on why women aren't stepping up to the next level in business. However, I am still young and optimistic. I have a company that I own with my parents that is not seeking VC or Angel funding, but is demanding in it's own right. I am incredibly to lucky to be a mom to a happy 16 month old boy, and a wife to a supportive husband. I realize I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I’m excited for the ride. I look forward to sharing my adventures in motherhood and business with the Power Chicks community through my guest blog posts.
Jennifer Donogh is an owner at Ovaleye LLC, a cloud services company serving small office, home office businesses across the United States. She is the creator and Director of Young Female Entrepreneurs, a wife, new mother, and entrepreneur with a passion for helping young women create their futures through community and the use of online solutions.
Power Chicks Chime In: What has been your experience in motherhood and business? Do any of the opinions above resonate with you?
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