Small Biz Matters

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Entrepreneurship / Women in Business / Small Business

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

February 24, 2012

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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