Entrepreneurship is (or Should Be) Gender Neutral


(3BL Media and Just Means)--I hate the term “female entrepreneurship.” We don’t call entrepreneurial endeavors led by men, “male entrepreneurship.” We just call it entrepreneurship. Unintentionally or not, “female entrepreneurship” implies a rare, or “wow, women can start and lead businesses? Really? Since when,” distinction. The gap widens as we separate the genders into distinct categories. I’m not the only one calling for us to crack the glass for equality on this ceiling.

Astia does, too. A San Fran-based nonprofit, Astia funds women-led ventures not because it’s trendy, but because the ventures are highly innovative and high performance. They know that in the last 20 years, because of increased access to higher education and changing views of gender roles around the globe, women are more empowered to launch their own businesses and own organizations with big products for big markets. Astia identifies the world’s top women leaders and connects them with angel investors for a shift of focus from our differences—a one percent biological difference—and social rules to a synergistic alliance among all business leaders.

In a 2014 white paper called Investing in the Success of Women High-Growth Entrepreneurs, their Teams and their Ventures, Astia makes this statement:

“We are not interested in the overgeneralized, decades‐long debate on how men and women intrinsically compare as a bifurcated set in terms of their business acumen and performance.  We’re also not advocating a platform that companies should win investment because women are at the helm.”

Astia’s interests, however, are to identify companies who manage “their inclusivity quotient for high performance by engaging women and men at the top levels of high-growth organizations.” They estimate only 10,000 women “supernovas” exist and will reach their pinnacle in their business leadership by 2020.

“The emergence of a robust marketplace for female entrepreneurial talent allows us then to side-step all the debates and discriminatory practices (intentional or not) that seek to identify some inherent difference in business women and business men that will somehow create a reliable order in a messy, social system influenced by centuries of potent gender rules,” states Astia’s white paper.

It’s a theory backed by MIT research. Professor Thomas Malone says that smart teams consist of three components: The average of the social perceptiveness of the group members; the evenness of the conversational participation; the proportion of women in the group. He is quoted saying: “If a team includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.”

High-performance, impact-driven entrepreneurship is gender-neutral. The more women and men partner together the more we will grow our economy and solve the world’s most pressing problems—as entrepreneurs, as business leaders, working together in buildings where ceilings do not exist. 

Check out Startup Owl for more wisdom on entrepreneurship.