Forget the glass ceiling ... how about the 'pink ghetto'?

February 24, 2012
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Erin Albert has had enough of the snide comments about the “cute” businesses founded by female entrepreneurs.

The owner of two businesses herself—Indianapolis health care consultancy Pharm LLC and networking group Yuspie—Albert has interviewed dozens of enterprising individuals for a pair of books on the topic.

And she’s not buying the criticism emerging from some corners that there’s a “pink ghetto” of women-owned firms that are somehow less worthy than the myriad male-led tech startups that garner so much attention and praise.

“Business is business,” she said. “I don’t care if they’re selling jewelry or diapers or whatever—let’s just celebrate the fact that they want to be entrepreneurs. It’s hard enough without bashing each other.”

True enough, but the fact remains that less than 20 percent of woman-owned firms nationally report bringing in over $100,000 in annual revenue after three years, according to a 2011 report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Nearly a third of male-owned firms surpass that benchmark.

While there certainly are exceptions, Albert said men and women have different motivations when it comes to entrepreneurship.

“Women aren’t empire builders,” she said. “They see entrepreneurship as a way to reinvent and manage their entire lives—not just a business.”  

Serial entrepreneur Jenn Kampmeier of Westfield certainly fits that profile, nurturing a handful of startups along with her 6-year-old son, Zane. (Read more about her in the next issue of IBJ.)

Kampmeier proudly describes herself as a “mompreneur” despite the “business light” stigma some attach to the term. “It’s who I am,” she says.

What’s your take on the issue? How can female entrepreneurs—and their businesses—be taken as seriously as the tech firms that dominate the startup community?
 

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  • NAWBO
    I agree with Erin Albert. I don't buy into this stereotype. And, it would have been good to have a representative of the Network of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)weigh in on this topic. I'm confident that they could have identified many local NAWBO members whose firms generate more than $100,000 in annual revenue.
    • NAWBO
      Thanks Sharon and agree NAWBO should have been contacted.I have been involved with NAWBO here in Indy for 14 yrs and sit on the National board in DC. NAWBO Indianapolis did a survey of their membership and 80% of their members make more than a million in revenue.
    • Why "Ghetto"?
      I don't understand why it is called a pink "ghetto", because that word has such negative connotations. Isn't any company that creates revenue and jobs (especially in this economy) a GOOD thing? All entrepreneurs aren't neccessarily looking to start a dynasty - many of us are just trying to make a decent living while having the freedom of working for ourselves.
    • Tech Matters
      I believe that there may be some specific reference to technology-based startups in this article and the original Forbes article. Being the founder and budding entrepreneur of a technology-based startup myself, I can see how some make assumptions about women in technology. (As a side note, my company is not about jewelry, fashion or shopping...as Forbes notes.)

      I believe part of the issue in the technology realm specifically may be the lack of women to turn to for advice, guidance and direction. It's not that you can't see the same counsel from your male counterparts (because you can and certainly do), it's that sometimes your product or service is aided by the filters of someone who might use your technology, or who fits your demographic.
      The short answer still remains that you need solid business skills first, the ability to write a great plan and understand your business and then the support to make it happen for a solid execution. I'd have to say I can't argue with Albert, Forbes or NAWBO reps here from various standpoints. If you have the skills, your gender really doesn't seem to matter.
    • Ghetto?
      4. any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment.

      That would seem to fit.

      (Just because there are meanings other than what you associate with it doesn't mean there aren't others.)

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