International Women’s day celebrates female entrepreneurs

Today is International Women’s Day! Thanks and congratulations to all the mothers, wives, sisters, girls and ladies out there. To celebrate this day we have a guest post from Magali Seng on “Women Entrepreneurship”. Born in France, educated in the UK and now working in a start-up in Canada, Magali is amply qualified to speak to all aspects of this celebratory day. Take it away Magali…

Women and entrepreneurship

By Magali Seng, Project Manager

Today is March 8th, and as you might have heard, it is International Women’s Day. You might wonder about the link between Women’s Day and Tech Entrepreneurship .  Actually the entrepreneurship’s world is getting more and more influenced by females. Even though it is hard to precisely determine the number of women entrepreneurs in Canada, Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey estimates that 910 000 women were self-employed in 2008. This represented 1/3 of self-employed people and 2 million jobs.

“Between 1998 and 2008, the number of self-employed women grew by 6.4 percent compared with 11-percent growth in male self-employment” (Canada’s Labour Force Survey, 2008).

Women have the reputation of starting businesses in the service area, but other sectors such as biotechnologies, robotics and manufacturing seem to gain their interest. Nevertheless, these businesses seem to experience slower growths, and lower exportation and financing levels than men’s.

In general though, men are still more numerous in entrepreneurship than women and their proportion increases more than women’s, but you also need to consider that they started way earlier. Women had to go through many emancipation steps before they could actually reach the point where they are legally and culturally allowed and psychologically free to involve themselves in such a venture as entrepreneurship.

Being an entrepreneur involves many commitments. It also implies credibility towards partners of any kind. Just like the ceiling of glass that prevents women from reaching companies’ top positions, the entrepreneur’s world also seems to suffer from a lack of women. Actually women entrepreneurs provide our societies with additional value.

There are good reasons for women to be self-reliant and start their business.

Throughout the evolution of mankind, women have developed behaviours and qualities that finally enable them to be good entrepreneurs.

Women in general tend to consider risks at a much higher level than men. They do not act as recklessly as them. This of course may be a brake to business if too extreme, but it might prevent also prevent a start-up from falling apart.

Also, communication is a quality that they tend to develop more than men. This allows them to build good relationships with partners (commercial and financial) and customers. As they have to prove credibility much more than men, they also need to use their communicative skills to build stronger social networks; this is a hard to measure skill, but nevertheless very valuable.

Another particular and precious quality when running one’s own business is creativity. Creativity is THE weapon to remain competitive and market-attractive. In this area too, women seem to take the lead. They invent and create. Rationality is important but creativity is the small thing that makes the difference.

Today, many resources are available to women only to help them start their own business: check the Women in Business Resources for a list of different programs and loans, join the Facebook page of Women Entrepreneurs of Canada (WEC), consult the Women in Business Info-Guide or log on to the Women of Influence website for more informations.

To finish I would like to add another quality that women had to develop over time, being obligated to play on many fields at the same time in their everyday life: multi-tasking. I would even say that this quality scores the most points in the comparison of men versus women in entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur means doing almost everything… often at the same time! Focusing on many tasks and still being able to perform is tricky. Most women are relatively good at that.

However there remain some issues that have to be overcome. Women still have many roles to play. They are women, mothers, wives, cooks and housekeepers. Even if many steps could be made toward further emancipation –and many have already been made! -, it takes time to change roles in a society. I would even add that women are not ready to give up completely their different roles. A lot of women still feel the need to put their careers into brackets to take care of their children, and are willing to find a balance between professional and private life, more than men do. Life priorities often differ from men to women.

To conclude I would say that more efforts need to be madeto get rid of prejudices and encourage women to enter into the wild world of entrepreneurship. They will find out that they are just as able as men to change things and make the world a better place!

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