Gender bias in entrepreneurship
It is strange that we talk about gender inequality at work, but what we mean by that is inequality amongst employees – usually in a large company.
We talk much less about inequality amongst entrepreneurs. I suppose that might have something to do with the general perception that, as owners of a company, they are in a privileged position. But studies show that there is considerable inequality between male and female entrepreneurs. See these two articles:
And this is just scratching the surface. We don’t know, for instance, what the situation is in developing countries, or in semi-oppressive regimes, where both entrepreneurship and the female population may be affected by a lot more than obstacles in their access to finance, for instance.
First year students in Entrepreneurship are taking part in an initiative to study this topic, and report on the situation in their respective countries (since we have over a dozen nations represented in class). Stage 2 of the project will be to propose hands-on solutions, on the ground – policy-aimed, or business-focused, or both.
Watch this space!
It is all good and well to teach ethical theories in schools – and indeed, we live in a time when Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility have made it to the list of core modules in most Business schools, in both undergraduate and MBA programmes. If you wake up any business graduate student from London to Boston at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, they are able to list the four main methods of ethical reasoning – based on virtues, rights, justice and utility. And they will also clearly explain the differences between them, their respective determining factor, and their limitations.
But what does this knowledge do for these students, once they graduate? How exactly do they apply it, when they become entrepreneurs – or middle managers, or CEOs?.
I’d urge my Entrepreneurship students to start thinking about this, in the context of their plans to set up a small or medium enterprise. And write an Annex to their business plan, about what a “value-based approach” might mean for them, as young entrepreneurs – in the context of their own business concept.
Here are some relevant sources of information on ethical entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs and even a school for social entrepreneurs: