What Do All Female Entrepreneurs Have In Common?

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
2014 was a tough year for women in the tech industry — or any industry, for that matter. First, there was the unsurprising report about Google’s diversity problem. Then, the sordid (but oh-so-compelling) tale of gender shaming and sexual harassment alleged in a lawsuit by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe, who was reportedly told by her co-founders that mentioning a “girl” was one of the founders would “make the company look like it was an accident.” Even HBO’s wonderful show Silicon Valley tended to make women seem more like props than actual thinking people who represent more than half of the population.

Can we reverse this slump in 2015? How about a reminder that women entrepreneurs are distinguishing themselves as smart and successful business leaders? Because, if there is one thing female entrepreneurs have in common, it’s that they persist even in the face of gender prejudice.

Women-Led Business Is Booming
Another thing female entrepreneurs have in common: They are part of a thriving trend. Women are starting businesses at a more rapid rate than anyone else, according to a study called Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms, commissioned and released last year by American Express OPEN. The research, which looked at more than 12,000 companies, found that between 2002 and 2012, the number of all women-owned firms grew by 28.6%, compared to the 24.4% increase in all U.S. businesses. More significantly, the number of $10-million-plus firms owned by women grew by 56.6%, compared to a 38.4% increase of all $10-million-plus businesses.

Female entrepreneurs have also received a lot of attention for their ability to generate profits in the tech industry. Data from a group called Women 2.0, a media company that promotes women in the tech industry, found that women-led technology ventures bring in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. Women-led companies are also more capital-efficient and achieve a 35% higher ROI.

Women Are Supportive And Often Supported
Aside from generating profits, female business owners tend to be more protective of their companies. (Please, withhold the "mama grizzly" jokes.) According to The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different From Men?, published by Kauffman in 2010, 59% percent of women were concerned about the challenges of protecting intellectual capital, compared to 39% of men.

Additionally, despite reports to the contrary, women who found businesses do have co-founders and mentors cheering them on. The same Kauffman report found that 56% of women said a co-founder encouraged them to become a partner and start a company. Thirty-one percent of men said the same. This is in line with the findings of the researchers behind the Amex OPEN report, who said that women do get a lot of support from peers.

Women: They're Just Like Us
In the end, however, the thing that women entrepreneurs have in common is that they are pretty similar to men who are entrepreneurs. From the Kauffman report: “…Successful men and women entrepreneurs share similar motivations, see the reasons for their success in largely the same way, secure funding from the same types of sources, and face many of the same challenges. These similarities suggest that, under the same conditions, both men and women can be successful entrepreneurs.”

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? See how GA is leveling the playing field so you can pursue the work you love. Explore General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund.

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