The efforts of the public authorities in favour of female entrepreneurship may be biased, alert to a recent study. At issue : the persistent myth of the superwoman.
The stereotype of the superwoman, who manages the upper-hand career and family is, in reality, the worst enemy of women. And the way public authorities value the creative enterprise does not arrange anything. Interview cored Janice Byrne, assistant professor at Ivey Business School, co-author of a study on the subject (1).
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By 2019, women constitute approximately 40% of the total of the employers. They were only 29% in 1987 and 33% in 2000. A progress to be welcomed. So far, the path is still long. The leaders are involved especially in the trades, the so-called "feminine", such as health, social action and the services to the person. They are rare, on the other hand, in the new technologies. They are in the minority in the incubators, to the point of feeling uncomfortable. The problem is further upstream : only 28.5% of graduates from engineering schools are women.
What are the models of the women entrepreneurs highlighted ?
We have studied the way in which the government, through several agencies including the Agency for business creation, have promoted female entrepreneurship between 2013 and 2015. We have analyzed the profiles of over fifty individuals chosen as "role models". The results are striking : they are, in majority, white, backgrounds, quite wealthy, graduates of large, even very large schools. They have acquired a beautiful professional experience in large companies and can rely on their address book. Only a minority of them is from less-privileged backgrounds.
What is the message these figures send out-the more young people ?
This is a message that is quite disturbing : it goes against the idea of meritocracy, in which success comes when one works hard. It does not take into account the benefits to women from certain backgrounds. In addition, entrepreneurship is presented as a kind of el Dorado that allows women to escape all the problems on the labour market. The communication of public authorities and regulates in some way the problems that are experienced by women. It is as if it were in the order of things that they are discriminated against and are paid less than a man. All of this is quite perverse.
How these female role models are presented ?
We are ecstatic about these superwomen who have power, are rather neo-liberal, self-reliant, independent. They succeed in everything they undertake, and this puts a huge pressure on young people. Another point : the women put forward often create companies that are more modest than men, and in the famous sectors of women, such as services to the person.
Why do these women engage in entrepreneurship ?
We find that they throw themselves, by necessity and not by opportunity, and this, regardless of their community of origin. Some have encountered the glass ceiling and have chosen to leave their employer. Others have created their box due to office hours that are incompatible with their family obligations. There are also those put in the closet to their return from maternity leave. And those who do not find work. In short, for women, entrepreneurship is often a plan B.
How to change the situation ?
It is necessary to stop to say that we have done lots of things for women to engage in enterprise creation, and now it's up to them to play. It is a charade. This is not so much the women who need to change the whole system. It is necessary to involve all the actors - bankers, managers of incubators, public authorities, etc. - and the push to think together and to take concrete measures.
Read our complete filecompany Management : the irreducible glass ceiling inequality between men and women persist among the young professionals, 67% of women entrepreneurs earn less than 1500 €
(1) Role models and women entrepreneurs : entrepreneurial superwoman has her say" by Janice Byrne, Salma Fattoum and Maria Diaz Garcia, Ieseg School of Management, 2019.