Our Worst Enemy is Ourselves


“Despite high education levels among women entrepreneurs, and higher levels than men, women in Europe and the U.S. are much less likely to believe they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship compared to men in their economies and women in other regions”(GEM 2012 Report, 11). Why is this the case? After analyzing the findings in the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012 Women’s report, I was forced to question why educated women seem to hinder their own entrepreneurial success by unintentionally creating additional barriers? In 2012, GEM surveyed approximately 198,000 women entrepreneurs from 69 countries out of an estimated 126 million self-started businesswomen around the world. The results were astounding: women entrepreneurs reportedly exhibited a greater fear of failure when compared to their male counterparts. Below, I have identified three main concepts that broadly cover circumstances that may cause women entrepreneurs to hamper their own future success.

I Am My Own Boss

  • Due to lack of funding and the need to be in control of all business operations, women are more likely than men to operate without employees.
  • Men have a stronger network of entrepreneurs than women; usually, women need to be encouraged to network and establish connections with key individuals who can provide advice and resources.

Play It Safe

  • In general, women do not have a desire to expand globally due to a strong local mentality
  • Women appear to show reluctance to scale their business ultimately, deterring investors
  • Well-educated women may be running low potential businesses; they are hesitant to enter into new and less tested markets

Barriers Stop Me, Therefore I Stop Myself

  • In general, societal barriers, gender role barriers, cultural barriers, environmental barriers and psychological barriers stifle women entrepreneurs


After analyzing the data, women entrepreneurs seem to lack the ambition and drive needed to be successful entrepreneurs. Although they are more educated than men, their overly cautious approach to business prevents them from succeeding in a high-risk environment. Women are holding themselves back by not asking for help and insisting on doing everything on their own. In spite of these statistics, women’s entrepreneurship is expanding in developing countries. For example, 40% of women in Zambia are engaged in entrepreneurial activities. About 73% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa believe they have entrepreneurial capabilities while only 16% of Asian women believe in their capabilities. Also, entrepreneurship is growing in the U.S. at twice the average rate of other developed countries. As women around the world pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, we need to step out of our comfort zone and begin taking risks, seeking advice and assistance when necessary and having faith in our capabilities.

Full Report: http://www.babson.edu/Academics/centers/blank-center/global-research/gem/Documents/GEM 2012 Womens Report.pdf


Ashley Murdock

Georgetown University


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