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Is It Easier for Men than Women to Create Start-ups?

Is It Easier for Men than Women to Create Start-ups?
Thursday, 26 October 2017

Business has typically been a man’s world, but does that mean that it is easier for men than women to find their way into entrepreneurship…and be successful? Two female entrepreneurs in the US say that by creating a fictional male co-founder, they were able to set up their company when previously they had problems getting anything done [1]. The company, “Witchsy” is an online marketplace of offbeat, feminist art [2].

The two women, Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer decided to sign their emails for their online art marketplace platform as “Keith Mann” when they couldn’t get results as themselves. The business owners defend this decision by saying that male and female developers alike responded faster and were less condescending when met with a man’s signature at the end of the email. [1] In addition, they found that when they were ‘themselvesm’ aka women, many of the people necessary in a business launch were unprofessional and didn’t take their endeavour seriously [3].

Gazin and Dwyer only ending up using the penname for a few months, but say that it was frustrating that they had to hide behind ‘a man’ to be able to move forward with the project which was, in itself, a success [3]. This is disconcerting because approximately 59% of men and 37% of women believe that sexism doesn’t exist [4].

However, we can see that this is not an unusual situation. When a Martin, male employee, accidently switched email signatures with his female colleague, Nicole, he couldn’t figure out why clients were being so condescending, difficult, and even inappropriate. When he realised his mistake, he decided to switch roles Nicole for a week. While it was a difficult week for him, Nicole had the most productive week of her life as Martin. [5]

When a business like Witchsy can make over 170,000€ in their first year [1], we have to think about what other businesses cannot even get off the ground because they are led by women. So while we may believe that sexism doesn’t exist, it is necessary to consider the deep founded beliefs that we have in our society. Perhaps it is time to question our perceived norms of who should (and can) start up a business, work in technological jobs, or just be efficient in general.