The gender gap isn’t just something that affects top executives. It’s not just a glass ceiling that keeps women at lower levels in their careers for longer, or forever, earning less than their male counterparts.
And it isn’t just about bias in hiring – which, conscious or unconscious, is rampant and often ignored.
A 99Designs study found that even those looking to break through all kinds of ceilings face a daunting gender gap.
Entrepreneurs should be statistical anomalies – they break rules, think differently, innovate constantly.
And yet, women still lag woefully behind men, and the reasons are painfully clear.
The study surveyed over 500 entrepreneurs to determine how men and women approach entrepreneurship.
Fully 40 percent of male respondents started a venture before the age of 35, compared to only 33 percent of female respondents.
Why? Well, if a woman has a family she wants to spend time with, or a job she doesn’t feel secure in, there may not be any time left over for a business of her own.
Even once they get started, only 43 percent of women spend up to half of their day working on their venture, compared to 56 percent of men.
That means that even once they get an idea off the ground, the process of entrepreneurship is likely slower for women than it is for men.
For instance, male respondents were two times more likely than female respondents to have raised more than $100,000 for their business. 64 percent of female respondents hadn’t even raised $10,000, compared to only 14 percent of their male counterparts.
Another telling revelation from this study are some of the attitudes toward best practices in entrepreneurship.
Women were found to be more likely to enroll in a course to prepare them for their business undertaking, while men were more likely to consult books.
This may be because women feel they need the credibility a course will bring, in the face of a widening gender gap. Which takes longer, and costs more? College, or a book?
And while both men and women say confidence is the key to being a successful entrepreneur, women value networking more than men do.
Maybe because women feel they can’t count on getting ahead on the basis of their skills and creativity alone.
When it comes to opportunity, career growth, and achievement, studies have shown that the gender gap starts opening up as early as Kindergarten, where teachers subtly bias girls against math while encouraging boys to love it.
If you believe you aren’t that good at something when you’re five years old, six, seven, eight . . . why would you keep trying?
That kind of imperceptible bias builds up as the years go on, as girls grow up in a world that still overwhelmingly portrays women as nurses, and men as doctors; women as shoppers, and men as earners; women as mothers, and men as workers.
While the gender gap is clearly still there, yawning at us, the game is slowly changing.
Many venture capital firms are now dedicated to backing businesses with diverse leadership.
And many, many studies like this are being ignored a little bit less. Articles like this are being written all the time. Slowly, slowly, locked doors are opening.