Nov 212012

While women are graduating from college at ever-increasing rates, the amount of high-growth companies they start is still unacceptably low.

What can we do to tip that balance?

2011 was a defining year in the United States. For the first time, the number of women earning college degrees exceeded the number of men. Thirty-four percent of the female population is now attending college. Sounds great, right? A more highly educated female populace should be great for the country. This is, of course, true. However, there is one sticking point that should be brought up—more than 82% of these women are receiving some sort of financial aid when they are in school. And, universities still receive large federal and local subsidies, in the form of research grants and tax exemptions, in order to operate.

Why does this matter? Because it means that there are more women not only graduating from college; but, also graduating with significant help from the government. This means that, as a country, we are currently making a significant bet on women and the potential impact that they might have on the overall, long-term economic growth of our country. How can we make sure that we get the highest overall return on our investment?


A comprehensive study conducted by The Kauffman Foundation found that companies younger than five years old (read: start-ups) are creating the majority of net new jobs in the United States. Start-ups are fueling our job growth, while existing organizations are counterbalancing this growth with a continued contraction in jobs. Over the long-run, high growth companies generate the type of positive job growth that we are going to need to in order to continue on the road to recovery, expand the economy, and remain an economic powerhouse. Given this information, it becomes obvious that in order to promote overall growth in the U.S. economy, we need to focus our energy and resources on developing more high growth companies.

Herein lies the problem–there is a huge disconnect between the number of highly educated females who are entering the workforce and the number of these women who are going on to launch high-growth companies. In her inspiring talk at Silicon Prairie, Lesa Mitchell encouraged the audience to think about the implications of this paradigm and try to find new ways to help start women down the entrepreneurial path.

The question is: how can we ensure that these newly-minted female graduates are going to provide us, as a country, with an appropriate return-on-investment?


Who, then, are launching these types of companies now? Mostly men. Women comprise more than 50% of the U.S. adult population and yet account for only 35% of the people who are launching new ventures. Some might look at that figure and think, “not bad!” But it’s worth looking more closely at the numbers to determine whether women are creating the types of new ventures that will significantly contribute to overall net job growth. And, this is where we are failing.

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – 

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