Gender equity has not been something that I paid much attention to until recently. Discussions about gender issues seemed to be everywhere. Last month I attended an informative event presented “Gender Equality Challenge: Rebuilding the 21st Century Workplace” to support women in leadership positions. Of course, Sheryl Sandberg and her comments about gender bias in her book, “LeanIn.”
Several reports on the status of women business owners identified that gender bias continues to affect women’s access to capital. Women owned businesses 20% less likely to approved for a loan and if granted receive 80% less than men.
Harvard Business School conducted a study this past year to find why women in their program were not faring as well as men. “Turning around its record on women, the new administrators assured themselves, could have an untold impact at other business schools, at companies populated by Harvard alumni and in the Fortune 500, where only 21 chief executives are women. The institution would become a laboratory for studying how women speak in group settings, the links between romantic relationships and professional status, and the use of everyday measurement tools to reduce bias.” The New York Times.
I was at an invitation only event of ten men and three women with interest in the status of small businesses in San Francisco. The sponsor was pleased to have women at the table but it was also clear that we were not part of the conversation, an experience similar to women in the MBA program experienced in the study at Harvard.
Finally, TechCrunch Disrupt conference in SF received a lot of press this week for frat boyish behavior without regard for the women in the conference.
Gender GEDI concludes that social and cultural norms still to be less conducive for women to become entrepreneurs. It is easy for us to focus on our businesses where we have control of the values and the environment in which we work. On the other hand we interact with the whole community and are impacted by the ever so subtle views and actions of others. It is so much part of the fabric of our culture that I dare say we don’t notice and accept subtle and not so subtle biases.
Regulations around federal contracting, selecting first and second tier providers, funding decisions, awarding contracts, etc. are all ways in which bias can impact a women owned business
As women business owners we clearly do not have a problem with being determined and focused on creating our success. We are, however, subtly affected by the biases that still exist in awarding contracts, granting loans, securing VC funding and other instances where we depend on the recognition of others. The change begins with us. We must open our eyes and recognize bias, comment on it and expect it to change. Are we focused on eliminating gender bias in our own businesses? It is our goal to work to assure that women have a level playing field on which to create their success. Do your part.
Best wishes on your success,