Who’s Better in Business — Men or Women?

A revealing question in a new report underscores the bias that female entrepreneurs encounter.

Colleen DeBaise By Colleen DeBaise

“Men make better business executives than women.”

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Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Did you agree with the statement? It most likely depends on where in the world you live — and your gender.

The majority of males in countries like Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, Korea and South Africa think men are superior when it comes to business leadership — a strong cultural norm that may explain why female entrepreneurs are struggling to succeed, a new report finds.

The Gender-Global Entrepreneurial Development Index, commissioned by Dell, analyzes 30 countries in an effort to pinpoint the conditions that help women business owners prosper. The good news: The mix of conditions appears right (or closer to right) in developed countries like the United States, Australia and Sweden, where women have access to education, technology and financing, and face fewer cultural barriers.

But the conditions are far from supportive in parts of the world — think Uganda, Morocco and Pakistan — where many women don’t have access to bank accounts, tend to have less personal assets and encounter more negative attitudes about their skills.

“While there are bright spots and room for optimism, the overall picture points to an urgent need for change,” according to Charlotte Deal, director of women’s initiatives at Dell. “The world cannot prosper without the economic participation of women.”

While there is no “silver bullet” for improving conditions for female entrepreneurship, the Gender-GEDI report makes a number of recommendations for governments, institutions and corporations. Among them are more funding for women business owners and more management opportunities for women pursuing careers.

But the report emphasizes the need for countries to address the more subtle but harmful influence of social norms first, especially in places where women don’t have freedom of movement outside the home.

In 22 of the 30 countries surveyed, married women have fewer rights than married men. In 21 countries, women lack the same access to employment as men. “A number of countries also limit women’s access to public spaces through legal restrictions and discriminatory practices,” the report found. “In order to foster female entrepreneurship, these countries must first address these fundamental weaknesses and take steps towards ensuring women equal rights.”

Even in places like the U.S., where women enjoy more personal freedom, stereotypes still exist when it comes to women’s business aptitude. While most American men (nearly 80%) disagreed with the statement “Men make better business executives than women” — a greater number of American women (nearly 90%) disagreed. More resources are needed to encourage high-growth female entrepreneurship, particularly in the tech sector, the report concluded.

See the chart below, with compares (by country) attitudes about the capabilities of male executives versus female. In no country are females considered as ‘good’ as male executives.

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Posted: June 6, 2014

Colleen DeBaiseWho’s Better in Business — Men or Women?