Why Women Entrepreneurs Underestimate Themselves And What We Can Do About It

A recent report finds that more than 200 million women across the world are starting and running new businesses. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM),  although men are still 50% more likely to become entrepreneurs, women are steadily gaining ground. The gender gap narrowed by 6% from 2012 to 2014, and in ten nations women are now just as likely as men to start new businesses.
 
These women are bringing innovative products and services to market, creating jobs, driving economic growth, and providing for their families and communities. At Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), where I serve as Executive Director, we’re working to change the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the U.S. so that we can soon join the list of countries that fully harness the innovation and leadership potential of their entire populations.
 
One gender gap we’re concerned about at CWEL relates to how men and women see themselves as entrepreneurs. According to the GEM report, while women are nearly as likely as men to identify potential business opportunities around them, they are significantly less likely to view themselves as capable of starting a business to address these opportunities and are more likely to fear failure if they do. In the U.S., for example, 46% of women believe they have the skills and knowledge needed to start a business, compared to 61% of men.