The poll, carried out by Business Link London, questioned 720 wannabee entrepreneurs at the Business Startup show held at London Olympia last November. Deborah Meaden won hands down, receiving 21 per cent of the votes. Judges Theo Paphitis, Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne each received 10 per cent, while James Caan was regarded as the least feared dragon with just 7 per cent. (The remaining 42 per cent of respondents were not regular viewers of Dragon’s Den and so chose not to cast votes.) Surprised? I’m not. I’m scared of Deborah even from within the confines of my own living room. And out of all the dragons, she’s the one who I believe could actually breathe fire from her nostrils. Forget the Spice Girls, Meaden has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “girl power”, though this latest poll makes you wonder whether she is actually a good role model for the modern-day business woman. Sure, she’s a multi-millionaire who is regarded as one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. She launched her own glass and ceramics import company straight out of business college and then went on to set up one of the first Stefanel Fashion franchises in the UK. But being viewed as fearsome and unapproachable is not a good image to cultivate in the world of business. As Afsana Shukur, head of diversity and equality at Business Link London points out: “It’s unfortunate that many successful businesswomen tend to be viewed as domineering and aggressive. The UK lacks female entrepreneur role models that buck this traditional stereotype.” Why is this? Is it really the case that women, even today, feel that the only way to hold their own in the male-dominated business world is to adopt what are traditionally considered male traits? Let’s hear your views. Related Article: Dragons DenMo Bro’s
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