Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Countering the Negative: Scaling Up the Numbers Positively

I don't know about you, but I'm awash in negative numbers where female entrepreneurship is concerned. From the number of women launching businesses and leading high-growth companies to the number of government contracts won by women and venture-backed female start-ups. The general consensus: the numbers are too low.

I agree. Innovation and economic growth benefit greatly from an expanded talent pool. But the following article posted by Jonathan Ortmans on the Policy Forum Blog, along with many others in recent months, leaves me asking: What numbers indicate success for female entrepreneurs? Is there even a "right" answer to this question? What are we shooting for?

Increasing the overall number of start-ups launched by women in direct proportional representation to their percentage of the general population (~51%) or college degrees received (~60%) seems unrealistic. Yet, these stats are often cited as one of several metrics to use. Could focusing on the stats, however, actually be perpetuating the very negative we want to change?

It might be a difficult pill for some to swallow, but Lesa Mitchell, Vice President of Advancing Innovation, Kauffman Foundation, and Sramana Mitra, founder of the One Million by One Million initiative, might have it right. Mitchell says, "Women's entrepreneurship is an economic issue, not a gender-equity issue." Mitra recently penned that, "For those who choose to whine about prejudice and obstacles, you are wasting your time."

Rather than rehashing the negative, why not highlight the positive? Women are running start-ups. Perhaps it's time to report on and write more about the women currently launching and running start-ups. Doing so just might create a far more powerfuland positivechange in the numbers down the road.

What do you think?