Thirty must be a magic number. Within 30 minutes of launching our 30under30 awards program last Wednesday, we’d received over 30 nominations.
They came from every State and Territory. They represented a good cross-section of our award categories. But there was one notable, unnerving discrepancy with the data. Where were the women?
We can only assume that Ms Rhoade of Diva Promotions must be pretty special. Not simply because she is under 30 and runs a marketing company for women in business. But because she was the one and only female Australian entrepreneur to be nominated among this initial group of 30.
This, of course, baffled me. I’m still baffled.
Surely female entrepreneurs represent more than 3% of the entrepreneur mix!
So, I did my research.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), an annual report that monitors entrepreneurial activity across nations, women make up about half the Australian labour force “who are actively involved in starting a new business or who own/manage a business less than 42 months old.”
This has remained consistent over the past 10 years.
So, if women are responsible for approximately half of all entrepreneurial activity taking place in Australia, why the lacklustre response to our awards program from the ‘fairer sex’?
I suspect that there lies a clue in this dated and, let’s face it, deliberately provocative expression. You might want to slap me down for using it (there’s a place for comments below) but I invite you to first hear me out.
From our side of the editorial desk, Paul Ryan (who’s probably not thrilled about his involuntary inclusion in this hoary debate) and I have observed the disparity between the gender of incoming callers for a long time.
A day will not pass without a big, blokey egoist barking his credentials for a feature story down the phone. “Write about me! My business is unique!” (And we all know the disproportionate nature of barks to bites.)
But we rarely, if ever, receive even the most courteous enquiry about the potential possibility of placing a female entrepreneur in our pages. Even a delicately phrased suggestion is a rare thing from where we sit.
So here’s my unscientific conclusion.
Female entrepreneurs simply seem less inclined to self-promote. And I suspect that the only reason why Anthill Magazine’s male to female ratio is as high as it is (said with the caveat that we know we could improve) is because we make a concerted effort to chase opinions and stories beyond the obvious members of the Australian bizerati, which has nothing to do with gender at all.
So, why is it that Australian women are so under-represented in the Australian business media?
Am I onto something or are my opinions simply another part of the problem?