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The World Needs Female Entrepreneurs Now More Than Ever

December 7, 2011

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Women can slowly change corporate culture from the inside, or they can change the world by starting their own companies.

Over the past 100 or so years, we have been solving the problems on our planet as if they are linear, independent, and containable—in other words, as if they are largely technical challenges. And in most if not all cases, our solution is another technical intervention which often creates a new set of problems. Examples abound: The focus on making cars more energy efficient with fossil fuels slowed the introduction of true electric vehicles by decades. Or the current discussion of nuclear as the solution to fossil fuels. It’s technology trumping technology with not nearly enough attention to the unintended consequences for future generations.

I have nothing against technology. But if, as Einstein said, the problem-solving skills that get you into a mess are not the skills you need to get out of that mess, we need more people with a different perspective on the problem and a new set of skills and abilities.


What’s needed now is a better grasp of (and comfort with) relationships of all kinds. And this is the kind of thinking and problem solving that is most natural to women:

  • Women are intuitively systems-thinkers
  • Women seek balance
  • Women care more about solutions than who gets credit
  • Women are the worlds’ experts on collaboration
  • When they are passionate about something, women never give up

While I am supportive of any and all efforts to move women into the C-Suite, the boardroom, and the President’s office, it’s hard to ignore the fact that in these traditional places, women are making slow progress, if any at all.

But something began to crystallize as I interviewed hundreds of women entrepreneurs for my book and website The SmartGirls Way. No matter what business they were creating and running, I found that there was a thoughtfulness and intention to their design and operations approach that was different. These women entrepreneurs were intuitively creating businesses that would be better for themselves, their families, their employees, their communities, their customers, and the world.

Take Amra Tareen, a successful venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and a mother of two boys. Her passion and integrity to address the media bias she saw in the world led her to found, the world’s largest citizen-journalist website. And there’s the story of Michelle King Robson, whose personal health challenges led her to found EmpowHER, an online community promoting women’s health issues so that no woman would ever have to suffer the same way she did.

These aren’t entrepreneurial myths; they’re real-life examples of women-led ventures taking shape right now. The beauty of it is, unlike with getting women into corner offices of corporations, these ventures don’t require any shifts in corporate culture. In the developed world, the rule of law supports women’s rights to pursue their efforts and maintain the wealth they create.

The Dalai Lama definitely had it right when he recently said “Western Women will save the world.”  And my money is on the entrepreneurs.

Jean Brittingham

Jean Brittingham is the founder and author of The SmartGirls Way. She is an expert in sustainable development, communication, leadership and culture, …        

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