It is still hard for women to get senior jobs

January 30, 2012

By Dr. Mona S. Almunajjed

Despite great strides in education and employment, a large gender gap remains in positions of status

Women in the GCC countries have not yet made it to the top. While their share of the workforce is increasing, it is still hard for them to reach senior positions, which are mostly held by men. Although this is a worldwide phenomenon, it is particularly striking in the Gulf region where leadership has been traditionally perceived in male terms. As a result, women in the region continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions in many fields and their progress has been slow.

Women’s lives in the GCC have improved tremendously during the past decades. They have become better educated and, according to United Nations data, the adult literacy rates for women have increased considerably, reaching 90 percent in Bahrain, 92 percent in Kuwait (2008), 81 percent in Oman (2008), 92 percent in Qatar (2009), 81 percent in Saudi Arabia (2009) and 91 percent in the UAE (2005). More educated women have joined the labor market and, in 2010, the percentage of female employment to population ratio (15+) reached its highest in Qatar with 50.5 percent, with Kuwait following at 42.3 percent, UAE at 37.5 percent, Bahrain at 31.4 percent, Oman at 23.6 percent and Saudi Arabia at 14.6 percent.

However, despite great strides in education and employment, a large gender gap remains in positions of status. Women may be as qualified as men but they seldom work in jobs with power and authority; they also experience considerable delay in attaining the higher levels of jobs and income.

United Nations data closest to year 2010 indicate that women’s share of key roles such as legislators, senior officials and managers reached 22 percent in Bahrain, 14 percent in Kuwait, 10 percent in the UAE, 8 percent in Saudi Arabia, and only 7 percent in Qatar. Most of these percentages compare unfavorably with other countries in Asia such as Malaysia (24 percent) and Indonesia (22 percent), and even more so with the USA (43 percent) and Europe (France 39 percent, Germany 38 percent, the UK 35 percent, Sweden and Spain 32 percent, and Switzerland 30 percent).

Why is the potential of professional women in the Gulf region still untapped? A number of cultural, organizational and personal challenges hamper women from reaching senior positions. We live in a patriarchal society where the social system is still based on the authority of men and women are discriminated against in the workplace. Men are still holding tight the reins to high-level positions and women are not encouraged to participate at the top of major public institutions and private companies.

Another reason is the division of domestic labor, with traditional gender norms and stereotypes still tending to confine the role of women to childbearing and rearing. Women are giving up their progression up the corporate ladder in order to raise their children. The general perception remains that women cannot dedicate their time around the clock to responsibilities other than their families.

A third reason relates to the type of education women receive and occupational discrimination, where traditional views on what constitute appropriate spheres for women’s employment reinforce their domestic role. Most young GCC women graduate in the fields of education and human and natural sciences, thus creating a gender imbalance in the labor market and key positions. Work labeled as “female” such as teaching and social services in the public sector offer better working conditions and a balance between jobs and family responsibilities.

So, how do women catch up with men in senior management positions? Nowadays, global corporate companies, conscious of the value of gender balance at all levels because it helps to boost their output, are more eager to hire and promote women. Research and evidence indicate that the appointment of women as top managers can positively improve the performance of a company as they bring different management styles, skills and experience to the corporate environment.

Women are positively recruited to senior management positions in companies in many European countries, in some cases through the use of gender quotas. Norway has introduced a legal quota requiring that at least 40 percent of board members of public companies be women. Spain and France have imposed a similar compulsory goal of 40 percent for female directors companies to be reached by 2015 in Spain and by 2017 in France. Companies will be dissolved if these quotas are not met. In Germany, companies are officially requested to increase the number of women on their boards and a national debate is taking place on the viability of quotas. As a result, 30 major German corporations are now seeking to increase the number of women in senior positions.

In Asia, the government of Indonesia has been encouraging women to move ahead in their careers. In 2004, the government set a policy that 30 percent of those holding decision-making positions in the civil service should be women. After considerable success, in 2011 the policy was extended to the corporate sector and companies have been given five years to meet the requirement. In other Asian countries, private companies are active in promoting the advancement of women’s careers and encouraging them to join business programs. A growing number of young women in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are pursuing MBAs and enrolling in business programs to gain access to better jobs in banks and big firms in their countries. As a result, in India more women are now holding senior jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry and in China the number of women holding senior management positions has been rising considerably.

Today, for the GCC countries to become a dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy they need to recognize and value women’s talents and skills. I believe that as a first step on the road to equal employment opportunities the national educational system for girls should be revamped to respond to the demands and priorities of a modern dynamic society. Educational opportunities should be expanded to provide alternatives to the humanities and social services such as sciences, mathematics, business administration, and ICT, subjects that are key to innovation and competition in today’s world. Equal education opportunities would give both men and women the same capabilities and opportunities to perform. It is only through the empowerment of women and their autonomy in the social, economic, and political spheres that our society can attain healthy and sustainable development.

GCC governments are making serious efforts to enhance the participation of women in decision-making positions. The National Development Strategy of Qatar seeks to increase the number of women in leadership by 30 percent. It is establishing a women’s leadership center to build capacity and increase the number of women in political, organizational and business-related decision-making positions. In Saudi Arabia, policy makers are working to introduce reforms to the status of women, granting them a more active role in public life and in top leadership positions. In Bahrain, the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Bahraini Women seeks to achieve the full participation of women in the labor force and enable their access to leadership positions in both public and private sectors. In the UAE, the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women seeks to reinforce women’s active role in both the public and private sectors and to pave their way toward higher decision-making positions. In Oman, the National Strategy for Advancement of Omani Women promotes the full participation of women in economic and social development processes and seeks to expand their representation in higher positions.

As a result of these efforts, a number of women in the Gulf region have been appointed to senior positions traditionally dominated by men, including: in Bahrain, Fatima Al Beloushi, minister of human rights and Lulwa Al Awadhi, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Women; in Kuwait, Mudhi Al Humoud, minister of education and higher education, Maha Al-Gunaim, chairman of Global Investment House of Kuwait; in Oman, Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah, minister of higher education, Assilah Zaher Al Harthy, head of corporate affairs, Oman Oil Company; in Qatar, Maha Mansour Al Thani, first female court judge, Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser Al Thani, founder and chairperson of Amwal and Hessa Al Jaber, secretary- general of Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology; in Saudi Arabia, Nora Al-Fayez, first vice education minister for girl’s education, Lubna Al Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company and Nahed Taher, CEO of Gulf One Investment Bank; in the UAE, Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi, minister of foreign trade, Fatima Al Jaber, CEO of Al Jaber Group and Hanan Al Tamimi, senior manager, tendering & engineering at Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. 

In light of the success of quotas in Norway and Indonesia, I believe that the use of a quota system for a more gender-balanced professional environment may work in GCC countries provided that only women with the right qualifications and experience are selected for senior positions. But although quotas will put pressure for change on public institutions and business companies, they cannot offer the sole solution. Society also has to acknowledge that women can be as successful as men and can perform as effectively as men in senior positions. To achieve this, we need to raise awareness that women can contribute not only through their role as mothers but also as active agents in society and as successful future leaders, making a shift from the traditional view that labels women solely as housekeepers and child-raisers to a more progressive one that accepts women as breadwinners capable of holding decision-making positions. Motherhood should not be seen as a brake on women’s development. On the contrary, it is a most valuable role, which cannot be measured in financial terms. However, both parents have a responsibility for the upbringing of their children. We need also to establish childcare facilities and nurseries in workplaces to help working mothers in their career.

To develop workingwomen’s skills in decision-making and leadership and help them realize their full potential, we need to provide training, career development initiatives, mentoring programs, and networking opportunities. We also need to initiate gender mainstreaming policies and mechanisms in companies and major public occupations to allow women to join equally in the social, economic and political life of the country. Governments, civil societies including nongovernmental organizations and the private sector should work hard to promote women and guarantee gender balance in senior positions.

Today, professional women in the Gulf region are ready to face the challenges of leadership; their expectations are rising and they are demanding more gender reform and change in society. It is important to empower them with both family and government support, and to recognize their exceptional skills, clear vision and hard work.

- Dr. Mona AlMunajjed is a sociologist, author and adviser on women and gender issues.

Mail to: mona.almunajjed@gmail.com

Source: Arab News website (January 2012)


Davos: if women are the future, where are they?

January 28, 2012

By Jane Martison

Despite a quota system to boost female participitation, the gender imbalance is still heavily skewed towards men.

If you attended the opening address by Angela Merkel or the private dinner in which Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee held a group of financiers in thrall with her life story, you might think that fabulous, powerful women dominate Davos. But the fact is, Davos has a woman problem.

The first day, which included honours for the Japanese violinist Midori and a screening of the biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, may have ended with a party to “honour women innovators” such as the web entrepreneur Arianna Huffington. with guests departing into the snowy darkness of Davos to the rousing sounds of the 1980s disco classic Ladies’ Night. And the biggest day of this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on Friday may include a main room event discussing “women as the way forward”.

But while the impact of women this year may be bigger than ever, organisers keen to encourage and then trumpet their success cannot hide the fact that their numbers are still small.

Despite a new quota system demanding that the largest members send one woman for every four men, just 17% of the 2,500 delegates are female. Despite a push to encourage more women on to panels to discuss the issues of the day, just 20% of those invited to do so are women. The majority of panels, especially on key economic topics, are still dominated by (white) men.

Although the days are long gone when one female delegate was asked to leave an event because security assumed she must be a spouse without the required permit, the majority of the women in Davos are not there as participants. Only newcomers to Davos seem to consider this fact remarkable, with the odd feminist exception such as Helen Clark. The former prime minister of New Zealand turned administrator of the United Nations Development Programme called the female participation rate “pathetic”. The leader who appointed so many senior women to her cabinet that Benetton ran an airport advertising campaign welcoming visitors to the “women’s republic of New Zealand” called for organisers to commit to the millennium development goal of 30% female participation by 2015. “Or why not next year? They should just go and look for the women. In one stroke, participation would go up.”

There is little support for such intervention among organisers, who argue that Davos merely reflects a world in which women lead just 3% of the biggest companies in the US and UK and make up 17% of its parliaments. Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s head of constituents who is spearheading the gender programme, calls this the “external glass ceiling” about which an annual meeting of top people can do nothing.

Roger Carr, the chairman of Centrica who is leading efforts to get more women appointed to British boards, agrees. “Davos is a special place populated by the most senior decision makers. The fact is that the number of women in that position is quite small. Davos is just the symptom of something that happened way, way back.” Centrica sends just two delegates and both the chief executive and chairman happen to be men.

With the cost of the meeting astronomical – delegates have to pay for five nights’ stay as a minimum – not to mention the annual membership fees of about £100,000 for the strategic partners subject to the quota, many companies are happy to talk the talk while hoping that others do the walking.

So why even bother to set a quota? Why not simply accept the status quo at an event which sums up a world governed by just 1% of its population? Is the whole gender parity programme part of a cynical PR exercise to encourage a belief that the most powerful people in the world care about half the world’s population?

There are two answers to this from within Davos. The first, that it is not a numbers exercise but good business, is summed up by Carr when he says: “This is nothing to do with PR. It’s just good business. I’ve sat on single gender boards and mixed ones and the latter improves the dynamics of the meetings and ultimately the decision making itself.”

This view is echoed by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, who says: “A world where women make up less than 20% of the global decision makers is a world that is missing a huge opportunity for growth and ignoring an untapped reservoir of potential.” The more popular sessions dealing with gender tended to be those discussing this “diversity dividend” or whether “decision making is better when there’s a diverse set of people making the decisions”.

This idea plays into one theme of this year’s Davos: that as the current economic and political crisis was made by men, the inclusion of more women can only help matters. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, brought a cheer to proceedings when he said: “What we need is a revolution led by women. I think women ought to be saying to us men: ‘You have made a mess, just get out and let us in’.”

Even Christine Lagarde said before becoming the head of the IMF, an institution criticised for its own role in the financial crisis, that the world might be a different place if there had been a bank called “Lehman Sisters”.

But there is also a wider political agenda which fits into the idea that diversity will help close the gap between the 1% and the 99% they govern. The charismatic chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, captured this in introducing Gbowee on Wednesday night when she said: “If the central moral imperative of the 19th century was slavery and of the 20th, totalitarianism, the central moral imperative of our time is the equality of girls and women around the world.”

There is evidence that investing in girls and women in developing countries does have a dramatic impact on the economy. Cherie Blair, who set up a foundation for women, says the issue is the most important one on the Davos agenda: “I don’t think the people who go to Davos deny that this is a major issue … They read the same reports about the value of investing in women in terms of education and employment as I do.”

Various studies suggest greater involvement by the poorest and the wealthiest women could help the global economy. The World Food Programme has found that girls and women reinvest 90% of each dollar in their families by buying food, books and medicine, for example. For men, that figure is more like 30% to 40%.

So, if participation at the most senior levels is to be encouraged, what is being done about it? A private breakfast of the forum’s female leaders and gender parity board on Wednesday discussed a document due to be published in March which will set out best practices to achieve greater diversity. These include a focus on measurement and audit, mentoring and sponsorship and a change to the way home and work life is shared. None of these are mandatory although an appearance by Viviane Reding, who is considering the introduction of quotas across the eurozone, is keenly anticipated on Friday.

Advocates of change insist that most effort should be directed at the middle management level, the point at which most women fall by the wayside, victims of either family-unfriendly policies or the failure to network for the top jobs. The forum’s effort to help involves an outfit called the Young Global Leaders, a network of about 1,000 people who are picked for greatness before the age of 40. Of these, 42% of these are women, while the newly formed Global Shapers of over-achievers under 30 are split 50/50.

The big question is, how many of these graduate to actually run companies or countries? WEF doesn’t give out these figures.

However, its efforts to become more inclusive does seem to have led to a marked cultural shift. Anuradha Vittachi, who has been attending Davos for years as founder of the OneWorld development group, says: “The panel used to look at the brown female wearing a sari with her hand up and point to someone else in the audience to ask a question.” That is no longer the case, she acknowledges.

Blair says: “If the world doesn’t start giving a proper platform for women, then it will fall flat on its face.”

Clark agrees. Asked whether leaders are paying lip service to gender equality as they battle to put out the global economic fires, she says: “Maybe, but we can’t let them off the hook. We just have to keep on keeping on.”

Source: The Guardian website (January 2012)


The next emerging market: A billion women

January 27, 2012

By Claudia Parsons

You would never dream of not investing in India. You would never dream of not investing in China. So why wouldn’t you invest in women? That question was posed by Beth Brooke of Ernst & Young at the launch on Wednesday of a campaign called The Third Billion that aims to empower women as a means to drive economic growth. The campaign is based on the notion that there are a billion women not participating in the global economy who should be.

“Every country, every company in the world is looking for growth wherever they can find it,” Brooke said at a panel discussion (which I moderated) at Thomson Reuters headquarters in New York. “Where is the growth coming from? It’s coming from the emerging markets … We historically think of those emerging markets as India and China and many others. But it is clear that women are an emerging market.”

DeAnne Aguirre, senior vice-president at Booz & Company, said the concept of the “Third Billion” comes from the notion that if China and India each represent 1 billion emerging participants in the global marketplace, then a third billion is made up of women around the world whose economic lives have been “stunted, underleveraged or suppressed.”

The figure is based on a Booz & Company analysis of International Labor Organization data on women in the global workforce that showed some 860 million women were excluded for one reason or another, a number forecast to rise to 1 billion in the next decade. (Many of those women are in India and China, of course, so there is overlap with the first and second billions.)

La Pietra Coalition, the global alliance behind the campaign, has identified five factors that contribute to keeping women from playing a more productive role: access to finance; legal and social status; barriers to entrepreneurship; lack of education and training; and labor policy and practice.

The group wants to bring together corporations, governments, NGOs and institutions such as the World Bank to address each of those issues.

Among those that have already partnered with La Pietra are Coca Cola, Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered Bank. Brooke, who is global vice-chair for public policy at Ernst & Young, said a key goal of the campaign is to enlist more big companies.

“It is good for their business,” she told Reuters. “They have women as consumers.  They have women as employees. Their supply chains could be filled with women entrepreneurs.”

“The point of “The Third Billion” is that they will have so much more of all of that in the next decade — if they invest wisely,” she said. “The investment will add to their bottom line.”

For an audit and consulting firm like Ernst & Young, there’s a real possibility of payback. As Brooke says: “The entrepreneurs of today are our biggest and best clients of tomorrow.”

Source: Reuters website (January 2012)


Inaugural Meeting of Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership

January 24, 2012

Remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Well, good morning everyone. And let me again welcome you here to the State Department, to the Ben Franklin Room, for this first meeting of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership. This is a truly remarkable group, and I want to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your very busy schedules to travel here to share your experiences and your insights as to what more we can do to promote women in the ranks of business and provide more opportunities for them to participate.

I want, particularly, to thank our vice chair, Cherie Booth Blair. We’ve worked together on so many challenges over the years. Her foundation supports women entrepreneurs around the world, and I’ve had an opportunity to collaborate with her and the foundation on the mWomen initiative to close the global gender gap that prevents hundreds of millions of women from gaining access to mobile technology. We all know that when women have the tools to participate in the formal economy, when they have access to information and opportunity, they can be full participants.

Our other vice chair, Indra Nooyi, unfortunately could not be here. Something came up which prevented her from attending. But her leadership at PepsiCo is a model for entrepreneurs and executives around the world, and she has been closely involved in helping to organize this meeting, and I think she twisted a few arms of some of you to participate as well.

Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s special advisor, also asked that we send her regrets. The President’s delivering his State of the Union this evening, and she was not able to break free from that, something I totally understand from my prior life. And I think that we’re very fortunate to have such a good turnout today.

I only want to say a few words, because really, the point of bringing such distinguished, successful women here around this table is to hear from you and to get very specific ideas about what you think can help us boost growth, take some of the untapped resources and mobilize them, follow smart strategies to increase productivity, and add new value to companies and economies. Now, everyone is searching for answers to those questions, but not enough people realize that part of the answer, a large part of the answer, lies with women.

Last September, I delivered a speech in San Francisco at the APEC, the Asia-Pacific economic conference lead-up, to make the case for increasing women’s participation in the global economy. You know from your own experiences that when women enjoy greater access and opportunity, there is a ripple effect. Businesses have more consumers, families have more to spend, and so it goes through the economy.

We have people around this table who have devoted their professional lives to unlocking the answers to these questions. Sri Mulyani here from the World Bank – she can tell us, in first-person detail, about how the Bank has released a new report, which I commend to all of you, about the impact women can have, not just for themselves and their families, something we’ve always known, but for entire economies. If women participated fully even in our own country, our GDP would rise considerably, and that is even more true in many other parts of the world.

The State Department has another advisory council whose subcommittee on women has produced a new report that looks specifically at the impact of women business leaders on companies and organizations. I want to thank its co-chairs, Judith Barnett and Jeff Volk, who are right there, for their leadership. Now, we’ll have the full results soon, but one fact is already clear: Including more women at the top of organizations, businesses, and the public sector is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. It’s good for business. It’s good for results.

Now, we all know the numbers. About three percent of the CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies are women. There are still a lot of obstacles to women entering. It depends, of course, on national, cultural, ethnic, religious reasons. But it cuts across all of that, and it is, to a greater or lesser degree, present in every society.

So the challenge before us today as we represent government, business, NGOs, workers, institutions is what are the ideas that we can promote that can help women be able to fulfill their own potential. How do we widen that circle of prosperity which will lift the entire global economy – women and men alike – and how do we, within our own organizations, do more to train and promote women to positions of leadership?

I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas, your initiatives, your thoughts, and looking forward to working with you to try to implement them. So let me now turn to my friend and fellow chair, Cherie.

Source: State Department website (January 2012)


Global Study of Women Entrepreneurs Finds Need for Greater Access to Capital, More Education and Training and a Shift in Societal Attitudes to Stimulate and Support Women Starting and Growing Businesses

January 15, 2012

By Michael Chmura

 

Babson College releases the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Women’s Report, the most comprehensive study ever conducted about the entrepreneurial activity of women across the globe.

Hear/See Professor Donna Kelley’s presentation of the findings.

This unique research, conducted in 59 economies, surveys individuals rather than firm registrations, analyzing how many women are participating in entrepreneurship worldwide, the types of businesses they are starting or operating, their attitudes about entrepreneurship and the challenges they face in starting and growing their businesses. The GEM Women’s Report is authored by Professors Donna J. Kelley, Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene of Babson College and Yana Litovsky, GEM Data Manager.

The report findings were featured today at the Spurring Global Economic Growth: Unlocking Capital for Women Entrepreneurs event hosted by the World Bank. This event included the announcement of a new access to capital public-private partnership between the Government of Denmark, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, and the U.S. Department of State and a moderated discussion with:

  • Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation, Government of Denmark
  • Patricia G. Greene, Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, Babson College
  • John F.W. Rogers, Chairman, Goldman Sachs Foundation
  • Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State
  • Robert B. Zoellick, President, World Bank Group
  • Moderated by Nina Easton, Washington Columnist, Senior Editor, and Co-chair Most Powerful Women Summit, Fortune.

“Women entrepreneurs are a vital source of growth that can power our economies for decades, yet they face tremendous challenges to their full economic participation. The GEM Women’s Report provides important data which is critical to our understanding of women-run SMEs,” said Melanne Verveer.

The Report found that, in 2010, more than 104 million women between 18–64 years old were actively engaged in starting and running new business ventures, contributing significantly to entrepreneurship in all 59 economies studied. Another 83 million women were running established businesses that they started over 3½ years earlier. Taken together, 187 million women were involved in creating and operating enterprises, ranging from just over 1.5 percent to 45.4 percent of the adult female population in these 59 economies. Although entrepreneurial activity among women is highest in emerging economies (45.5 percent), the proportion of all entrepreneurs who are women varies considerably among the economies: from 16 percent in the Republic of Korea to 55 percent in Ghana—the only economy with more women than men entrepreneurs. A multi-year analysis shows that this gender gap has persisted across most economies for the past nine years (2002–2010).

Among the report’s key findings:

Activity and Attitudes

  • Overall, women are less likely to venture into entrepreneurship than men, and this occurs with greater magnitude in particular economies. In most economies, more women than men are motivated by necessity when starting a business but the gap may be closing with time. Necessity motives for women are highest in less-developed economies, then becomes less of a motivating influence as economies develop and grow. In the most developed economies, 72.3 percent of women start businesses because they recognize opportunities, rather than out of necessity (because they need a source of income and have no other job options).
  • In emerging and developing economies, more women start new businesses than manage established ones. This reverses in developed economies where, like their male counterparts, more women are established business owners than entrepreneurs.
  • Similar to men, women are just as likely to see entrepreneurship as attractive, but they are less likely to believe there are a lot of opportunities for starting businesses in their area. In fact, during a nine-year span (from 2002–2010), this report shows that these perceptions about entrepreneurial opportunities declined among women in most developed economies. Additionally, women are more likely dissuaded from entrepreneurship due to fear of failure and they are less likely than men to display intentions for starting businesses.
  • In societies where women perceive they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship, there is a greater likelihood women will also perceive entrepreneurial opportunities. However, fewer women (47.7 percent) than men (62.1 percent) believe they have the capabilities to start and run businesses.
  • Education levels of entrepreneurs rise in proportion to their country’s phase of economic development. In the most developed economies, women entrepreneurs outpace their male counterparts with regard to secondary-level education. Women entrepreneurs in wealthier economies tend to be older, as well educated, and just as likely to create innovative products as their male peers; yet they have half the growth expectations of men.
  • Women entrepreneurs in developed economies are less likely give up their businesses, but when they do, lack of financing, unprofitable businesses, or personal reasons are the usual causes.
  • Growth expectations for women entrepreneurs were lower than for men in all three economic development levels. In developed economies, twice as many men as women expected to add 20 or more employees to their companies.
  • Innovation is logical. More women entrepreneurs introduce innovations (new products and services) in developed economies. And there is no gender gap here. Just as many women as men are innovative, especially in developed economies.

Example Programs

  • Many economies have initiated programs aimed at building women’s capabilities for starting and growing businesses, highlighting their accomplishments, enhancing their networks, and providing advice and mentoring. The report highlights programs in eight countries, and also includes a description of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women project.

Policy Implications

GEM researchers offer several general guidelines that may help resolve challenges facing many women entrepreneurs today, including:

  • Assist women business start-ups through the availability of opportunities and resources;
  • Support women’s business growth with technical assistance and education; and,
  • Promote societal attitudes toward entrepreneurship, and in particular, women’s engagement in entrepreneurship.

“Most economic policies around the world are made by individuals educated primarily about the world of big business and functioning in their roles to support such businesses,” commented Professor Donna J. Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College and the lead author of the GEM Women’s Report. “At the same time, most of the businesses in the world are small to medium-sized firms and the majority of the world’s workforce is employed in these businesses. Therefore, blanket policies that take the perspective of large companies, or that fail to consider differences between women and men, or even among groups of women, will likely fall short in facilitating the growth of economies around the world. Policies will need to consider this diversity and its relationship to motivations, attitudes, and approaches to start-up and growth, as well as the frequency and profile of women’s entrepreneurship. As women continue to emerge as key participants in the entrepreneurial phenomenon, they will contribute increasingly to economic development, innovation and the societal value of their communities and the world.”

The Authors

  • Donna J. Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship. Frederic C. Hamilton Chair of Free Enterprise, Babson College
  • Candida G. Brush, Chair, Entrepreneurship Division, Director, Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and Franklin W. Olin Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurship, Babson College
  • Patricia G. Greene, Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, Babson College
  • Yana Litovsky, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

GEM Women’s Report Sponsors

  • GERA and GEM
  • Babson College and the Center for Women’s Leadership at Babson College
  • Center for Women’s Business Research
  • Universidad Del Desarrollo
  • University Tun Abdul Razak

Click here for the full report

About GEM

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a not-for-profit academic research consortium that has as its goal making high quality information on global entrepreneurship activity readily available to as wide an audience as possible. GEM is the largest single study of entrepreneurial activity in the world.

Initiated in 1999 with 10 countries, GEM 2010 conducted research in 59 economies all over the world. Visit http://www.babson.edu/academics/centers/blank-center/global-research/gem/pages/home.aspx or http://www.gemconsortium.org/

Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society—while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value. For information, visit www.babson.edu.

Source: Babson College website (January 2012)


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