In 2011, the Kauffman foundation released a research paper [PDF] looking at women entrepreneurs and showed “room for improvement in women’s entrepreneurship, with vastly more room as one goes up the scale into building growth companies.” Despite making up more than 50 percent of college graduates and almost 50 percent of the US labor force, women account for only 35 percent of the people involved in starting a business in the US and hold just 16% of corporate board seats.
As an organization that is home to so many talented women, we feel it is important to share their experiences with our audience. We recently spoke with a Ingrid Merriwether of Merriwether & Williams and Meredith Akers and Tanya Scott of Ed Support Services about their experiences running a business. Here’s what they had to say:
Kristin Richmond, Kirsten Tobey, Ingrid Merriweather, Meredith Akers, & Tony Scott.
“When it comes to relating with the families we work with and within the educational field we’re often working a lot with women. I think it’s very beneficial to us. I think on the business side, for me as a business leader, I think it’s very challenging. We talk a lot about communication styles, and expectations, it’s something that we work at.” -Tanya, Ed Support Services
“I have personal responsibilities, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my gender, I can’t change the way people perceive me, or if they’re going to make generalizations about my gender, I certainly want to become a better, more direct communicator. When I have had male bosses, I never had the expectation that I would be going to his home, drinking wine, talking about gossip and maybe looking for some advice about my personal relationships. That boundary was just there for me. But, having female bosses who are friendly, and willing to be more open, that line is a little more blurry. It does work to our advantage; people need to trust us and feel comfortable with us, with the most intimate and challenging things in their lives. -Meredith, Ed Support Services“
“Women are by nature multi-taskers. Conventional roles require that we managed a household and kids and all of that. You’re a natural multi-tasker and I think that transfers very well to managing a business. The problem is we don’t get to let go of that part at home when we come over to manage the business. Those responsibilities generally are still on our plate. Many of us, myself included, have great partners or spouses and they step up. But it’s not the same as taking control, and sometimes, to be honest with you, we as women don’t want to lose control. -Ingrid Merriwether, Merriwether and Williams Insurance Services“
“There is no question I think women’s approach is different in that we don’t really realize the attributes we have that could help our business succeed even more; if we were to do it intentionally. -Ingrid Merriwether, Merriwether and Williams Insurance Services”