Dell Reveals: Majority Believe Women Aren’t As Good As Men In Business

Rania Anderson looks at the recent global study completed by Dell and The Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), which measured and ranked conditions for high-potential female entrepreneurs in 17 countries.

If you look at the data, you will see that the progress of women in business leadership has stalled.

It seems counterintuitive when globally, education, employment and entrepreneurship rates for women are rising. All over the world governments, organizations, businesses and individuals strive to capitalize on the rise of highly educated women. They seek to find the winning formula that will increase women entrepreneurship and drive economic prosperity. There are more programs than ever before to help accelerate women in business and women are getting mentors and sponsors, training and resources.

And yet the needle is not moving. Why?

A key reason: fundamentally, people - both men and women - around the world do not believe that women are as good as men in business.

REVEALING THE UNDERLYING ATTITUDE

A global study just completed by Dell and The Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI) measured and ranked conditions for high-potential female entrepreneurs in 17 countries. The study found that no one single factor - not education, economic development or societal norms – was a key determinant in predicting the growth and prosperity of high-potential women entrepreneurs. Rather, it takes a combination of many variables to create a fertile environment for women to pursue and grow businesses.

But, from my perspective, the most revealing finding of the study was that in none of the 17 developed and developing countries researched were women considered as 'good' as male executives. This index gets at the underlying attitude and bias that both men and women have about the capabilities of women in business leadership. This fundamental issue, if left unresolved, holds back any significant impact that structural changes can have. 

SPURRING FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 Belief drives action. 

If we, as individuals, businesses, organizations and governments, don’t fundamentally change our beliefs about the ability of women to start and build high-growth businesses, we will not reap the full dividend of any advancements intended to spur female entrepreneurship. 

I have found in my work with women entrepreneurs in many of the same countries analyzed for the Dell/GEDI study, that the fastest and best way to change attitudes about the abilities of business women is to increase the visibility of women entrepreneurs who have figured out how to succeed inspite of suboptimal regulations, laws, practices, funding/capital sources, norms and beliefs. 

The reality is that in all 17 countries researched in the study and in countries all over the world, successful high-growth women entrepreneurs find workarounds.

The most successful women entrepreneurs are undeterred by obstacles. They either find a loophole or a path around barriers. If a way forward doesn’t already exist they create one, find one or talk their way through one.

HOW TO CHANGE BELIEFS

To change the deeply ingrained stereotypes about women business leaders, we need to better communicate the successes women entrepreneurs have, as much as, if not more than, our reporting of the obstacles they continue to face.

This will be one of the best ways to change gender bias and motivate women considering entrepreneurship.

If we truly want to increase the numbers of high-growth women-owned businesses, we will need to change more than the business environment; we will need to change our belief about the ability of women to succeed.

Our beliefs will be a key determinant of future global economic prosperity.

Rania Anderson is the President and Founder of The Way Women Work, an online career and business advice platform for women in emerging economies. As an entrepreneur, executive business coach and angel investor, she works to accelerate the advancement of women around the world. Rania is also the co-founder of the Women’s Capital Connection, the 8th women's angel network in the United States and an equity investor in women-owned businesses. 

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