Female Entrepreneurialism Is A Journey Into The Unknown
Being an entrepreneur, especially one dealing with new technologies and future business models, may often in itself seem as a journey into an unknown territory. In the light of recent discussions, the journey seems even more adventurous for women, says guest blogger Lea Weitekamp.
“Here be dragons” is a phrase that medieval cartographers used to denote unknown territories on maps, often accompanied by pictures, sometimes of sea serpents or lions, too.
Being an entrepreneur, especially one dealing with new technologies and future business models, may often in itself seem as a journey into unknown territory. It feels like an exploration of a new world, without knowing which dragons there will be to defeat, and without guiding hands to ensure a happy ending.
In the light of recent discussions, the journey seems even more adventurous for women: think about issues like science education for girls, managing work and family life at the same time, and the still off-balance male/female ratio especially in top-level positions. The digital industry is certainly a very advanced and liberal one to work in, yet men still outnumber women at most business events by far. And in spite of a growing number of female CEOs like Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandberg, there are still comparatively few women taking the plunge into the even riskier waters of founding a company on their own (as Stella Fayman points out in her article on Forbes).
Luckily, things are changing visibly, with political and industrial leaders alike developing more sensitivity towards the subject and discussions going on all the time (needless to say not every one of them has produced an agreeable outcome yet).
But there’s another side to this: The task of facing one’s own dragons, which can also push – or pause – a career, no matter which field you’re in. Self-doubt and fear of failure are just two of the obstacles that come with being an entrepreneur, and again, they seem to be harder to overcome for women than for men: “The terrified feeling is part of being a professional, and especially part of being a female professional” says Amanda Pouchon in this article in Fortune Magazine. Women are often more cautious than men and reflect heavily on their choices – character traits which make them good leaders but can also become a powerful enemy on the way to business success.
When you’re aware of these monsters lurking in the shadows along your path to business bliss, it is a great comfort to know that for many of them, there’s someone who’s been there and can show you how to kick their buttocks. That’s why role models are so important and we still don’t have nearly enough today. Need an example? In her article, Stella Fayman quotes a female entrepreneur who went through a tech accelerator program saying “she wouldn’t have even applied to the program if she had not seen other women as examples that it could be done”.
It is always great to encounter business heroines who have fought and defeated – or tamed – their dragons and are willing to share their story. This year’s NEXT Berlin conference (April 23 & 24) will take a journey into the unknown, exploring the future of the digital industry and the challenges it holds for businesses and customers – hence the motto Here be Dragons. It is also a great place to meet female heroes: Marina Gorbis, Caroline Drucker, Jess Erickson, Alice Taylor and Hermione Way, to name just a few.
Looking forward to seeing you there, Ladies!