Friday, December 23, 2011

A True Meritocracy?

Women still participate less in the global economy, are less likely to start businesses and run established businesses and are less confident about their ability to be entrepreneurs, according to this Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study I reported on last week.

The facts, much as we dislike them, are in. The statistics speak for themselves, no matter what culture or country is studied - though there are degrees better and worse in terms of women's outlook.

But what's the cause? Let's start with the fact that in the U.S., women have not had the vote even for a century. That's right; my great-grandmother never cast a vote and my grandmother could not vote for most of her young adulthood. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

So, societal factors. Gender differences. Parenting differences. It's complicated because every factor plays some role, major or minor.

Last week at a TEDx conference, long-time entrepreneur and economics professor Vivek Wadhwa detailed his findings on how women and certain racial minorities have fared in the so-called "pure meritocracy" of Silicon Valley. He also talked about the reception he got from the powers-that-be when he challenged their most cherished assumptions. Let's just say it wasn't pretty.

A fantastic talk and well worth watching.

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