98 CLEARING THE HURDLES: WOMEN BUILDING HIGH-GROWTH BUSINESSES
edge, then becomes a very important factor in making the critical distinc-
tion between an exciting idea and a genuine business opportunity.
Technology is not the only area important to business creation and
growth that has gender issues. While a high percentage of teenage girls
expect to attend graduate school, only a small minority expect to have a
“business”-related career. Among the reasons young women cited for
not pursuing a business career were their perceptions that it would be
constraining, risky, and cutthroat, and they preferred careers that
offered an environment in which they could be individuals, ethical, and
doing good things for the community.
Of those girls expecting to
enter business, entrepreneurship was the most popular choice.
Although women entrepreneurs in the United States are generally
well educated, they are not a homogeneous group and education poten-
tially impacts them differently. The differences involving race and eth-
nicity are striking. Higher education is associated with the probability
of a White woman being involved in a start-up process, but the impact
is almost twice as strong for African-American women.
At the same
time there is no signiﬁcant inﬂuence among Hispanic women. The
Center for Women’s Business Research reported that 33% of the
respondents of a study of Latina business owners had at least a bache-
lor’s degree with an additional 35% having attended some college or
even holding a two-year degree.
Considering the existing data about educational level, type, and
skills of women entrepreneurs, it’s hard to make the generalization that
all women lack the relevant depth and breadth of education needed to
run a high-tech business.
There are no internal limits today. There are some
practical ones, like getting more business experience, doing
CHAPTER 5•WOMEN AND HUMAN CAPITAL 99
more networking, and going back to business school
to get more education.
—A successful woman entrepreneur
Work experience is the second major component of human capital.
There are three basic components of experience that are believed to be
important in determining success:
• Industry experience
• General business experience
• Start-up experience
Resource providers look for these three types of experience in their
evaluation of growth-stage ventures.
Relevant experience in the industry provides opportunity to
develop the know-how, the contacts, and a sense of the norms and busi-
ness practices that are used in the industry of choice. General business
experience gives an entrepreneur the chance to make decisions affect-
ing the whole business or gain expertise in speciﬁc areas (e.g., market-
ing, ﬁnance, operations). Either way, experience in running something
in a hands-on way is important. It is extremely important to note that
general business experience is not limited to the for-proﬁt arena but
can also be gained from participation in volunteer organizations,
schools, and so forth. Finally, start-up experience can provide lessons
for what to do or not do, as well as give an entrepreneur the opportu-
nity to build a team, raise money, and acquire resources.
The challenge for women acquiring resources, especially money,
is based at least in part on the facts: Women are less likely to gain
human capital through experience in higher levels of executive or tech-
nical management. On average, 25% of all managers in Fortune 200
companies are female with some companies reporting rates as low as
only 7% female managers. In 1998 only 11% of the total board seats in
Fortune 500 companies were held by women, and less than 4% of the