How do Female Entrepreneurs Differ from Their Male Counterparts?
byChris_Ogburn06-20-201208:53 AM - edited 06-20-201208:53 AM
Honestly, at first I was a little disappointed in the responses to a question I’d posed on Small Biz Nation, a LinkedIn community hosted by HP and Intel. My question was this: What strengths do female leaders possess that aren’t as prominent with men?
And what disappointed me, initially, was the lack of anything provocative or shocking in the many responses to the questions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been conditioned more than I’d realized to expect drama to fuel most online discussions of topics that are even vaguely controversial.
Instead, the discussion evolved as a civil, thoughtful reflection on how men and women are different – or perceived to be different – in the sphere of entrepreneurship. The general consensus is that female entrepreneurs tend to exude more empathy and compassion. That, in turn, is equated with a greater ability to nurture others.
I think Christina Cozzi, founder and president of Camelot Public Relations, summed it up best. “You’re either a good business owner or you’re not, and we should not be classified according our sex,” she said. “That being said, there generally are personality traits that more women possess than men, which can generally lead to success in business.”
The conversation delved into very specific issues and topics. Gail Sideman, owner of communications consultancy PUBLISiDE, believes empathy is one such trait that can contribute to success. “I often get information from athletes and others that male reporters and PR types do not, simply because I ask a question in a manner that communicates that I care about more than just numbers,” she said. “I care about them.” Closely related, MPact Project social entrepreneur Holly Coenen said the empathy factor can translate into more effective networking. “We have better communication skills on a more emotional level,” she said. And according to Colleen Toye, who owns Crescent City Ornaments in New Orleans, the ability to empathize leads to better collaboration. “I believe that women share with other women better than men share with other men,” she said. “Maybe not as big of an ego?”
Ouch. That comment hit a bit of a nerve, so I dug a bit more deeply into the male perspective on the issue. According to Ray Metcalfe, owner of Metcalfe and Associates in Toronto, standardized test scores do in fact indicate that women are:
Slightly less competitive
“This is consistently the case when viewing ‘average’ women in the workplace, or those who are ‘elite,’ meaning the top 3 percent,” he said.
I suppose there’s nothing quite like statistics to make your point, but here’s a decidedly non-scientific parting thought from Richard Malloy, founder of Malloy Benefits Corp. “Women tend more to consider the feelings of others,” he said. “Just saying.”
What do you have to say about how male entrepreneurs are different from their female counterparts?