We recently celebrated women's day. While it is true that women have made significant strides in business and politics, the fact remains that we are lagging way behind men. This phenomenon is prevalent not only in India but the world over. Statistics have proved that more than70 per cent businesses in the US are run by men. In India, the statistics must be much higher.
Why is that so? All things being equal, studies have indicated that unconscious biases play an important role here. Women entrepreneurs are disadvantaged because people tend to doubt that they possess the skills and traits required for entrepreneurship.
They lack the confidence required to walk down a less trodden path. Men on the other hand are more confident sometimes even bordering on overconfidence. This helps them to plunge into businesses.
Also, there is a difference in how men and women perceive failure (90 per cent of startups fail, according to Forbes/ Entrepreuneers magazine) men are more likely to try again if they fail, thinking their reasons for failure is not their own doing but some external factor whereas women take it more personally and think they were perhaps were just not meant for business.
Please note that education has no role to play in the way that men look at women - it is mainly the cultural biases in play.
Having said that, in India women are just not exposed to the same opportunities as men! The stereotyped woman has a major role to play in homemaking and most of their business ideas revolve around their home and lifestyles. Most VCs are run by men and for them it is easier to give out funds to businesses that they understand and people they connect with easier.
A lot of change has to be brought in for women to make significant impacts in the field of entrepreneurship. Mind sets cannot change overnight. Women have to consciously learn to be more aggressive, more vocal and venture out of their comfort zones. Of course, they cannot do it on their own. They need the support of investors, educators and other organizations that will promote them.
All of this is undoubtedly very challenging but we are already seeing baby steps in that direction. Take the ratio between man vs women birth for instance: it is increasing by the year. The sex-ratio of women per 1000 men was 940 in 2011 which shows continued improvement over the sex ratios of 927 in 1991 and 933 in 2001. This is change at the grass root itself indicating the change in mindsets and however small, in time it will bring about considerable change.
More and more women are entering the workforce and taking up non traditional roles. More men are contributing in the sharing of household responsibilities narrowing down the gender divide. But we need a lot more of this to happen and it will- slowly but surely.