The Conversation: Female entrepreneurs and the curse of 'male-only' business attributes

22 May

File 20170519 12266 1emejeSam Javanrouh/Flickr, CC BY-NC Lianne Taylor, Anglia Ruskin University

In theory, the world of entrepreneurship should be gender-blind. Start-up businesses are judged on whether they survive or die, and you might have thought that the same stark definition was applied to entrepreneurs themselves. But the discussion around how business people operate in this bruising arena has struggled to detach itself from broader stereotyping around sex – and it is starting to wear thin.

In popular thinking around entrepreneurship, in the press and in research, certain attributes are presented as “male-only”. These traits associated with building a business include self esteem, risk taking, autonomous decision making, over confidence, the need for control, resilience, and ego. Put all that together and you have a familiar archetype … of a male entrepreneur.

The trouble is that female entrepreneurship is most commonly described in opposition to these traits. And so a woman who starts a business is expected to show an affinity for collaborative decision making, a focus on service and an aversion to risk. The reliance on this stereotyping does not reflect the reality, and reinforces false ideas about what it takes to start and grow a business.

Starting early. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Changing behaviour

The truth is that female entrepreneurs strongly identify with so-called “male only” attributes. They use these traits to maximise business opportunities in the same way men do. To properly reflect that, it’s down to anyone involved with the entrepreneurial world to proactively change the labels and recalibrate the discussion.

It won’t be easy. Female entrepreneurs are even told by their own mentors, by female-only development programmes, and by others not to become like men in order to be successful; not to share the traits associated with male entrepreneurs. This is ludicrous. There are no behaviours that could be regarded as strictly for males that ambitious female entrepreneurs and professionals, either do not have, or won’t pick up en route to success in a competitive environment.

There is a caveat to this. Women tend to “do better” on programmes that are tailored towards females only, but this may well be because they don’t have to worry how to handle stereotypical expected behaviours. The uptake of female entrants into entrepreneurship can be considerably increased if we avoid alienating them with language, expectations and archetypes that make them feel like they are “acting like men” by displaying certain attributes.

Entrepreneurial learning theory – which studies what and how entrepreneurs learn while they explore opportunities – suggests that entrepreneurs with no business experience adopt behaviours which will allow them to be seen as credible and successful. We face the reality that gender differences still permeate research and public perception, and so female entrepreneurs feel the pressure to adapt in order to meet public expectations when dealing with investors and other stakeholders because the stakes are high.

Going all in. Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

Guilt trip

What about when it comes down to emotions? Well, the idea of entrepreneurial emotions such as passion, pride and fear can be misleading. These emotions influence both genders and can be enduring or transient.

Gender differences in emotions still persist and have a strong influence on the entrepreneurial creation of new businesses (a male entrepreneur’s love for his businesses has been shown to be the same as a parent’s love for their child). A male’s sense of pride might appear greater than a female’s, but neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues that everyone’s decisions are equally influenced by emotions. The context in which entrepreneurs find themselves is critical in this debate.

For example, when family and businesses collide this might create more vivid anxiety or guilt for women, while male entrepreneurs might display more clearly the same emotions in the failure of a business idea, because the interplay between work and home is less intense.

Attitudes towards risk are also still separated by sex in most discussions. The acceptance of risk is higher in males than females when starting a business. But women who have taken the same financial and business risks as men are largely overlooked among researchers and professionals because they are a smaller group and do not contribute significantly to statistics. It is time to recognise these women, so that we can address the stereotypes here. And at the same time, we can listen to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on how women can frame and embrace risk.

We can’t flip societal judgements overnight, but we should recognise that entrepreneurial attributes such as ego and high self esteem, which drive the need to be successful, are not gender specific. Many are guilty of judging a female entrepreneur who puts her business before her family by different standards to those of a male equivalent. A woman who takes a financial risk by putting up the family home as collateral can be deemed to be going against “female-only” entrepreneurial traits, rather than conforming to attributes shared by all fellow entrepreneurs.

The ConversationOur understanding and labelling of successful entrepreneurial traits matters. There must be more discussion about the converging nature of female and male entrepreneur’s attributes and emotions, and a move decisively away from the idea that this somehow represents women “acting like men”. These are adventurous and professional women, making autonomous decisions, taking calculated risks, and needing to be in control. They are entrepreneurs.

Lianne Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and International Business, Anglia Ruskin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

$2 million donation to support budding entrepreneurs

1 June

Leading Australian businesswoman Christine Christian has donated $2 million to State Library Victoria to establish Start Space – a new centre to support early-stage entrepreneurs, the first of its kind in Victoria.

Part of the Library’s Vision 2020 redevelopment, Start Space will provide emerging entrepreneurs with free access to resources, services, programs and mentors to transform business ideas from concept to reality.

Christine Christian said the State Library is a natural home for Start Space.

“The Library has always been a place where anyone can freely access information and knowledge to help them reach their potential,” said Ms Christian.

“Start Space extends that to support those looking to embark on an entrepreneurial journey. It will take the fear out of getting started by providing access to the right support, advice and networks, which I know from experience makes a significant difference to a venture’s success.

“For those keen to innovate across any field – creative, artistic, tech, or social enterprise – Start Space will be a game-changer,” she said.

The Christine Christian Entrepreneur-in-Residence will also be established, providing dedicated funding to an individual annually.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley welcomed this latest donation to the $88.1 million Vision 2020 project, a partnership between the Victorian Government and the community.

“Christine’s generous donation means more Victorians will get the kick-start they need to get a business venture off the ground, create jobs and contribute to our economy. It’s one of the ways we are transforming our State Library to meet the needs of future generations of Victorians.”

State Library Victoria CEO Kate Torney said the donation will provide new opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and a positive injection into Victoria’s economy.

“This extraordinary donation will make an enormous difference to those individuals who have the nub of an idea, but don’t know where to start,” said Ms Torney.

“What we’re creating is unique in that it provides free support at that critical starting point for people who are developing their idea but aren’t yet ready to take the leap into the start-up world.

“It will be an early incubator and a launch pad to set people up for success and, in turn, will make an important contribution to Victoria’s burgeoning creative and innovation economies,” she said.

With more than 5 million Australian jobs predicted to disappear in the next 15 years, more and more people are likely to be self-employed in future. It’s estimated that 66% of millennials – those under the age of 29 – want to work for themselves.

Start Space is part of the Library’s Vision 2020 redevelopment and is due to open at State Library Victoria in 2019.

Know your why by Dr Evans-Galea

31 May

Opinion piece published in www.growingtallpoppies.com by DR MARGUERITE EVANS-GALEA

I was at the APEC Women in STEM meeting in Ha Noi, Vietnam last week and I met a dynamic young woman from Vietnam, IT specialist Thanh-Phuong Nguyen. Phuong co-founded Fablab Hanoi and she spoke with passion about the 'why' - why do you want to do science? Working with a number of children and teens, Phuong said the answer most often is 'because it's fun!'. And it is! Science is immense fun. But Phuong pushed harder, asking students' what do you want to do with science?' Various answers from 'change the world' to blank stares came back. Knowing your why is crucial for developing strong resilience and persistence in the scientific career. If you do not know your 'why' for doing science, for doing research, or for doing a PhD… then it can make the 'how' much more challenging.

Reflecting on my own why, I did science because I wanted to help people. I’m a change-maker! Keeping my 'big picture' in mind helped me through long hours in the lab, optimisation of challenging new techniques, failed experiments, rejected manuscripts and unfunded grants. It also ensured I celebrated the rare Eureka moments, those perfect experiments, the Friday data, the high impact publications, the competitive funding success and the awards that followed.

Knowing my why also gave me great freedom. I didn't have to be limited by thinking that a research scientist was the only brilliant career in STEM. I love research, I always will, but I did science to help people. To contribute to the greater good. I can do this from anywhere in the STEM sector, not just research. I'm a scientist who also does science policy, education and skills development, and science communication. I connect researchers and industry leaders. I facilitate learning and upskilling. I help Australia’s future leaders in STEM be the best they can be. I celebrate their success alongside my own! This helps them, but it also helps you and me. It helps all of us.

As a leading advocate for women in STEM, I also know why I support women in STEM. I want to actively contribute to the culture shift we need to foster an inclusive, progressive environment where every researcher can lead and excel. By working together, knowing why we do science, we can ensure the Australian STEM ecosystem stays strong, vibrant and diverse!

Dr Evans-Galea is the inaugural Executive Director of the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). She liaises with University and Industry leaders around Australia to coordinate and oversee a high level mentoring program. With a PhD in molecular biology and over 15 years experience leading translational medical research programs at world-leading organisations in the United States and Australia, Dr Evans-Galea’s research and leadership have been internationally recognised with numerous awards. Dr Evans-Galea has chaired executive committees, and has served with advisory groups in state and federal governments. Strongly committed to empowering early-mid career researchers (EMCRs), she regularly mentors students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Dr Evans-Galea has developed graduate mentoring programs in the USA, was founding chair of the EMCR Forum with the Australian Academy of Science and currently leads the Australian Science and Innovation Forum with ATSE. An internationally recognised advocate for women in STEMM, she serves on the Science in Australia Gender Equity Expert Advisory Group and is co-founder of Women in STEMM Australia. Dr Evans-Galea has been recognised with an Australian Leadership Award and is an inductee and Ambassador for the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Follow Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea on Twitter, @MVEG001

The GTP aim is to increase the number of girls studying physics to Year 12. We use the real nature of science and scientists as leaders to inspire the next generation. We are Growing Tall Poppies in Science.

Skills young people need for the New Work Order

27 June

In April 2016, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) released another report in their New Work Order series entitled ‘The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order’.

The report focuses on trends of 2015 (disruption, innovation, digital literacy), and provides an important insight into what young people should be thinking about as they make higher education, training and employment decisions. 

Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order. The New Basics reveals that employers are placing a premium on enterprise skills at a time of significant change in our workforce. An analysis of 4.2 million job advertisements from 2012-2015 found there is rising demand for enterprise skills such as digital literacy (increased by 212%), critical thinking (increased by 158%), creativity (increased by 65%) and presentation skills (increased by 25%). Jobs ads that ask for these enterprising skills are offering significantly higher pay than those jobs not requiring these skills, and employers of younger workers are asking for enterprise skills just as often as role-specific technical skills. What’s more, the jobs of the future demand enterprising skills 70% more than jobs that are at risk of automation.

This body of evidence makes it incredibly clear, Australia needs to act to ensure our young people are prepared for the careers of today and tomorrow. FYA is renewing its call for a National Enterprise Skills Strategy, to ensure students across Australia are developing these skills inside and outside the classroom.

FYA’s focus is largely on using curriculum as the basis to structure change, citing examples of curriculum redesigns in Canada and Singapore. Changes to teaching methods are also highlighted, focusing on collaborative work, cross-disciplinary sessions and inquiry approaches and in class start-up projects. Partnerships with employers are also encouraged, so students can learn these skills in work-based environments.

Skills young people need for the New Work Order

27 June

In April 2016, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) released another report in their New Work Order series entitled ‘The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order’.

The report focuses on trends of 2015 (disruption, innovation, digital literacy), and provides an important insight into what young people should be thinking about as they make higher education, training and employment decisions. 

Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order. The New Basics reveals that employers are placing a premium on enterprise skills at a time of significant change in our workforce. An analysis of 4.2 million job advertisements from 2012-2015 found there is rising demand for enterprise skills such as digital literacy (increased by 212%), critical thinking (increased by 158%), creativity (increased by 65%) and presentation skills (increased by 25%). Jobs ads that ask for these enterprising skills are offering significantly higher pay than those jobs not requiring these skills, and employers of younger workers are asking for enterprise skills just as often as role-specific technical skills. What’s more, the jobs of the future demand enterprising skills 70% more than jobs that are at risk of automation.

This body of evidence makes it incredibly clear, Australia needs to act to ensure our young people are prepared for the careers of today and tomorrow. FYA is renewing its call for a National Enterprise Skills Strategy, to ensure students across Australia are developing these skills inside and outside the classroom.

FYA’s focus is largely on using curriculum as the basis to structure change, citing examples of curriculum redesigns in Canada and Singapore. Changes to teaching methods are also highlighted, focusing on collaborative work, cross-disciplinary sessions and inquiry approaches and in class start-up projects. Partnerships with employers are also encouraged, so students can learn these skills in work-based environments.

What's On

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30