A GENDER GAP ON THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY.
Despite the increase of research about women in the entrepreneurial and managerial world, I consider this area still understudied and firmly believe gender inequality is still part of the agenda. For example, as argued by Carter & Marlow (2003), participation of women in entrepreneurial activities may result from their increased participation in the labor market as a whole. But an increasing proportion of female entrepreneurs may also result from labor market discrimination or “glass ceiling” career problems.
Additionally, as argued by Tan (2007) despite the role women play in job creation, economic growth and societal revitalization, women in entrepreneurship have not received adequate
A FEMALE STORY OF SUCCESS, GROWTH AND VALUE CREATION.
In 2005 Huffington created the news website The Huffington Post in partnership with Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti and became as the Financial Times described her as a “new media entrepreneur,” (2010). The platform was acquired by AOL in 2011 for US$315 million, and Huffington was President and Editor-in-chief until 2016.
From my point of view, Arianna Huffington not only built a platform based on a disruptive business model, she was able to understand the importance of value creation and was able to gain commitment not only from the readers but also from the crowd-sources.
THINKING ABOUT GENDER COMPARISON AND ARIANNA’S JOURNEY
I found that no relevant differences exist between men and women in various dimensions related to entrepreneurship. For example, Brush (2012) mentioned personality dimensions, motivation, practices, goal orientation, leadership, and risk-taking propensity indicating great similarity between men and women.
First, definition of success. As argued by Seongbae (2013) women see success as having control over their own destinies, building ongoing relationships with clients, and doing something fulfilling, while males define success in terms of achieving goals. As expressed by Arianna in an interview to Forbes (2014) there are many definitions of success.
Second, access to resources, as mentioned by Brush (2008) several studies indicate that women are less likely to receive capital from individual investors and are less likely to use commercial credit. This rejection is based mostly on gender stereotypes – lenders did not perceive women as possessing characteristics necessary for successful entrepreneurship (Rosen, 1988). As published by the International Business Times (2011) Arianna had a dream while she was going to Cambridge University, she wanted to be a writer but faced a lot of rejections including financial rejections.
Third, entrepreneurial orientation. There are six characteristics based on Lumpkin and Dess’ (1996). Autonomy, proactiveness, competitive aggressiveness, innovativeness and risk-taking we will focus on the last two.
Innovativeness: is described as a firm’s inclination to support new ideas, experimentation, and creative process (Lumpkin and Dess’ 1996). A clear example was exposed by Arianna: “As Huffington Post grew, I kept reminding myself of what Clayton Christensen has famously called “the innovator’s dilemma” – how even very successful companies, with very capable personnel, often fail because they tend to stick too closely to the strategies that made them successful…”. From my perspective, this shows a clear example how innovation is the foundation, but nevertheless, flexible and clear strategy is what keeps innovation alive.
Risk Taking: There are many perspectives and definitions of risk-taking and some of them describe it as incurring heavy debt or making large resource commitments by seizing opportunities (Lumpkin and Dess’ 1996). For Arianna risk was more than debt: “Think differently from other entrepreneurs by accepting failure and learning from it. “There are a lot of failures along the way,”. I believe her answer illustrates the relevance of being able to take risks and being resilient in order to learn from the mistakes and succeed.
After reviewing literature of the previous two decades and doing research about the life and business of Arianna Huffington, I consider we are at a stage where the entrepreneurial orientation and characteristics such as innovativeness, risk taking, autonomy, proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness should not be attributed as female or male characteristics.
Consequently, in terms of growing a business, I believe it is necessary to change the perception that entrepreneurship is a male occupation and limitations such as financing or the perception that females do not pursue the dream of a growth business model should no longer be part of the agenda.
Finally, some of the adjectives that we can use to describe Arianna Huffington are a dreamer, as when she started as a writer was able to overcome the obstacles; creator as she was able to develop a vision for a disruptive model; and explorer-pioneer, as she was able to develop a new business model based crowd-sourced and these are just some of the characteristics mentioned by Kuratko (2005). I believe the challenge is to find a way to close the gender gap and we should stop considering females as a minority and rather consider them as a source of contribution, vision and experience.
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