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Women failing to shout about entrepreneurial achievements despite outperforming men

A new study by Barclays and Cambridge University has found that women are less likely to be bullish about the prosperity of their businesses, despite female-run companies being found to be posting higher pre-tax profits on average.
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In the run up to the 11th annual Real Business First Women Awards, held on 11 June, female entrepreneurs have also been found to be far more ambitious than male counterparts. Some 47 per cent indicated they are either very or extremely interested in establishing another enterprise in the next three years, compared to only 18 per cent of men.

The study, The Psychology of Entrepreneurship, concluded that women in business opt for “stead, profitable expansion”, re-investing profits rather than taking on equity investment, while men look for risky “fast growth and quick exits”.

Greg Davies, head of behavioural and quantitative finance at Barclays, commented: “Entrepreneurs have an important role in supporting economic growth and social progress. Yet they are often incorrectly viewed as one homogenous group.

“This study directly challenges that misconception with a much more varied picture of success. Indeed, some of the characteristics we found, such as introspection, actively counter society’s popular stereotypes.”

Rather than following with “popular culture’s identikit image” of entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and James Dyson, the research from Barclays and Cambridge University suggested there are two “distinct” types. One were found to be artistic, well-organised, highly competitive and emotionally stable – while the other are traditional, conservative, disorganised, spontaneous and focused on team-working.

Cambridge University’s Vesselin Popov, who is development strategist at the education institution’s Psychometrics Centre, added: “These psychometric results debunk the myth of the CEO superhero. Entrepreneurs do differ form employees but as a group, they are still incredibly diverse and often misunderstood.”

Focus: Gender inequality in the workplace

The First Women Awards will celebrate female achievements across both the entrepreneurial and senior level business landscape. From sector-specific awards such as media, manufacturing, engineering and finance, accolades will also be bestowed for best in class for young achievers, public service and the built environment.

Previous winners to show what can be achieved by women in business include the entrepreneurial duo behind notonthehighstreet.com and Thea Green of Nails Inc. Supported by the CBI, the awards have also brought together female luminaries such as Juliet Davenport of Good Energy, author Annabel Karmel, former Dragons’ Den investor Hilary Devey and MITIE Group CEO Ruby McGregor-Smith.

Analysing senior entrepreneurs, the research found that “freedom to make decisions” was the biggest motivator for starting a new business – with the demographic exhibiting a tendency to be more driven by personal success. They are also more liberal, artistic and well-organised, with above-average scores for extraversion.

Image: Shutterstock

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About Author

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the former editor of Real Business and sister publication, Business Advice. In his time at Caspian Media, he was part of the team that hosted the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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