Why aren't there many female entrepreneurs?


Its a striking fact that the ratio of male to female entrepreneurs is very low although the ratio is getting bigger day by day in good income countries, medium and small etc.

  1. What can be done or changed from male entrepreneurs' perspective? and what is your opinion regarding this topic.
  2. Does if affect economy in anyway as they are equally competing in every field due to fact that somewhere deep inside it indicates that there is some hidden potential which needs to be pushed up.

Any edits are openly welcomed.


asked Oct 5 '11 at 07:31
Himanshu Prasad
51 points
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  • Your first statement is very broad and sweeping. Do you have any references to back it up? You might be surprised how many women do start their own businesses. (or is this a homework question?) – James 12 years ago
  • (pedantic comment) you mean the ratio of male to female is very high -- or the ratio of female to male is very low. And can you perahps provide evidence or statistics to back yp your generalization? I think you are wrong. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Also why is the male to female ratio in stack Exchange is very very high ? At least I rarely see women asking or answering questions in this community. – Sunil 12 years ago
  • Are you guessing gender from usernames? Most of my experience with Stack Exchange is on Stack Overflow, where non-gender-revealing usernames are common. I think the actual ratio would be hard to estimate. – Jlstrecker 12 years ago
  • Of course - despite the gender neutral usernames, it's pretty safe to assume the gender ratio on StackOverflow would be ~50:50 just like the overall population. What could possibly lead anyone to susepct otherwise? – Tbone 12 years ago

3 Answers


Depends how you define "entrepreneur". if you are talking about funded startups then sure there's a great deal of males out there proving themselves in that arena. Women prefer to collaborate rather than compete and so some of the startup culture falls into that area.

But if you are talking small business then you should check out this inforgraphic about female run businesses http://blog.intuit.com/trends/women-flex-big-muscle-in-small-business-infographic/?img=a-womans-touch

answered Oct 5 '11 at 17:53
Allison Reynolds
394 points
  • +1 there a plenty of menu waving business plans/posting on websites about 'the next facebook/group/whatever'. But I often meet women running small, informal businesses which they are gradually growing. IMHO if you compare the cashflows they are probably more successful than the dreamer with the 'next big thing' – James 12 years ago


Allison Reynolds makes a good point with the infographic. Also one reason women might have trouble with funded startups: White male tech startups get funding for being white and male..

answered Oct 14 '11 at 13:51
150 points


Well that is a long discussion and there is no one thing you can point at, there is however a range of contributing factors, key ones I see include:

  • Women in most countries are discouraged from an early age. This is changing in the "developed" world but the influence from an ingrained "old world" mindset in parents take 2-3 generations to be removed and level the playing field properly.
  • Women have babies, men don't. I'm liable to be shot for this one but it has to be brought up. Women have to be careful starting a business because, next to having a child, it is one of the most time demanding things you can do ... and they have to choose.
  • In many countries there is a legacy "old world view". Most large companies are run by older men, who still hold to the old views, they are the ones making the decisions on who to hire ... so on average they stick to what they know.
  • Women prioritise differently to men. This I think is largely due to the "old world/cultural" legacy but women, on average, spend more time looking after themselves, investing in friendships and have other priorities around personal and spiritual development. Obviously there are individual cases everyone can point at that don't match this pattern but on average I think women tend to have alternative interests.

So I think, as you point out, that the picture is changing dramatically, we just happen find ourselves in the middle of the change point for the majority of countries around the world ... kind of exciting really.

If you interested have a listen to Hanselminutes. Women in Technology in the Muslim World, this is a good discussion around the differences that can happen if the "old world view" is removed.

There was one other discussion I heard but can't find. It referenced a study on the "glass ceiling" effect which looked at women coming out of key management courses in key universities and it found that they tended to have a few things happen which meant there were simply less cadidates than men. This included

  • having babies dropped them out of the race.
  • Women coming from those courses tended to meet men who were also from those courses and by mid 30s the man was still working flat out and the woman had changed direction/lifestyle because together they could afford it.
  • the fact that men studied or worked on average 4 hours per week more than women due to women having a better work/life balance ... this over 20 years adds up in "experience".

So anything approaching an equal 50/50 men to women would show an actual massive bais towards women.

I can't remember the actual podcast/book but I will fill it in if I can find it.

answered Oct 5 '11 at 12:30
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • "Women have babies" -- 1. Women don't have to have babies. 2. Women can control when they have babies. 3. Women don't have to be the primary caretakers of babies. If you're going to claim that having babies is a significant factor, provide data. – Jlstrecker 12 years ago
  • "Women prioritise differently to men" -- Also keep in mind the [double burden / second shift](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_burden). Again would really like to see evidence backing up your comments. – Jlstrecker 12 years ago

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