With all my talk about entrepreneurship being the way to close the gender gap, I was struck by the lack of American female entrepreneurs on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Women.
Of course, I’m delighted see a list that includes so women who are heads of state or hold critical government positions and those who head major corporations. But I’m an entrepreneur and a woman. Where are my role models on this list?
It’s not until #20 that you see a female entrepreneur. And then they’re spread thinly down the list:
- HTC’s Cher Wang (No. 20)
- media maven Arianna Huffington (No.31)
- Forever 21 Jin Sook Chang (39)
- Zhang Xin (No. 48), billionaire co-founder of the real-estate empire SOHO China
What surprised me about this list of women entrepreneurs is the lack of American-grown female entrepreneurs. Lady Gaga, Oprah and Beyoncé Knowles are pretty high on the list, but celebrities start with their fame then build their businesses. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the women who create, innovate, and lead a business from start-up to major player.
Look at that list again: two American companies that were founded by emigrants. That’s the American dream in action but what about the American dream for American women?
The American dream holds true for American men. Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful People has a host of American-grown entrepreneurs:
- #10 Microsoft cofounder who turned philantrophist
- #17 Steve Jobs cofounder of Apple
- #22 Larry Page cofounder Google
- #23 Michael Bloomberg. founder of Bloomberg, now a politician
- #33 Warren Buffet, investment entrepreneur and now head of Berkshire Hathaway
- #40 Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook
- #59 Bill Gross, co-founder of PIMCO
- #66 Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
Up-and-coming women entrepreneurs are out there, but you have to get away from the quantitative methodology of the Forbes list to Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, which allows people to nominate candidates for the list.
Will the women on Fortune’s list make it to Forbes list? I don’t know. But I do know that the Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs are terrific role models. I want to understand why they were able to take the risks that other women haven’t. So in the months to come, I’ll take a closer look at these women.
What do the women on Fortune’s list know about taking risks that other women don’t know?