Amanda Steinberg advises women on their finances through NY-based Daily Worth, which has attracted venture-capital funding. She has commented on the following facts reported by Crains New York:
- women start companies at twice the rate of men, but
- they own about one-third of US small businesses, and
- receive just 11 percent of VC funding.
Her take is that
- VCs don't like to fund "lifestyle" startups that women tend to favor, and
- taking on a startup requires a commitment to the business that may interfere with the desire of many women today to have control over their non-work hours. My source for this is the latest NYTECH Newsletter, referencing NYConvergence.
This topic prompts me to ask a number of questions.
1. The three statements of fact in the report cited above lead to three sets of questions:
1a. Why do women start companies at twice the rate of men? Ms. Steinberg suggests that, more than men, women want to work in an environment that they control. More than men, women apparently want a more balanced life than is possible in the context of a large company? Some research supports this view.
1b. Why is their success rate half that of men? (If they start companies at twice the rate of men and were equally successful, they should own two-thirds of small businesses, right?) Ms. Steinberg suggests that women are clear about why they want to leave big companies, but are less clear about the requirements of a small one? Small businesses can be just as intrusive, and being the CEO creates its own imbalances, so some wannabe female entrepreneurs decide it isn't worth the cost.
1c. Ms. Steinberg does not suggest that the low rate of VC funding reflects a bias by VC people against women. Rather, that they don't like the kinds of businesses thatwomne want to go into?
2. Another factoid might help. It may be out of date or even possibly of dubious origin; and it may be irrelevant. I picked it up 20 years ago when I wrote about the suicide vs. homicide ratio and it has stuck in my head.
2a. The first part is that women attempt suicide three times as often as men. Could the world as it is be less supportive of women than men? Could men be basically more satisfied with the world as it is? This would explain why women want to leave their existing jobs (or create a business at the same time as raising a family) at a higher rate. Are women more likely to blame themselves rather than someone else - therefore directing their anger at themselves rather than another person? Men commit more homicides...
2b. The second part is that women are one-third as successful at committing suicide. Are women more hopeful, so that a half-hearted attempt at suicide is simply a plea for help? Are women just less familiar with guns or other devices for suicide?