Women on top in a downturn

What's the best way to get your business through a recession? Be a woman, according to Business Link...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Female business owners are more likely to survive a recession thanks to their slow and steady approach, according to a new study by Business Link in London. The support group, which says that it ‘helped’ over 28,000 female-owned businesses in the capital last year, says that women are better at planning ahead, taking advice, and sharing their experiences than men – and they’re not so obsessed with chasing a fast buck. All of which makes them the perfect choice for an economic crisis.

Apparently these conclusions are based on a ‘vox pop of 300 businesswomen’ at a event in London. So in other words: Business Link had casual conversations with lots of women, and the less-than-surprising consensus was that women are better than men at dealing with economic crises. A cast-iron research methodology, we’re sure you’ll agree. There’s also some heavyweight scientific support in the form of Dr Abigael San, who’s apparently a psychologist specialising in gender stereotypes – sorry, studies. ‘The provision and seeking of support promotes the building of trust-based relationships and fosters confidence – all of which are important during periods of economic difficulty,’ says Dr San sagaciously.

But just in case there are any real cynics among you, who are still sceptical even now, perhaps this procession of casual generalisations will remove any lingering doubts: ‘Women are great at multi-tasking and very good at coping with stress’ (Jill Shepherd, Bamboo Learning); ‘There is less competitiveness amongst women and as such, we’re more open to sharing best practice and support each other’ (Lesley Lant, Perennial Marketing); ‘Women tend to grow their businesses organically rather than making testosterone-driven decisions on equity funding’ (Katherine Leopold, PA London).

In fact, the only discordant voice came from Business Link’s Fran Currie, who warned that women can’t be completely self-reliant. ‘As the credit crunch continues to bite, it’s more important than ever that women seek independent advice to ensure that their businesses are ‘crunch-proof’.’ Presumably she means from other women, right?

Here at MT we need no convincing about the quality and quantity of female business talent out there (we’re currently swimming in a flood of impressive nominations for the 2008 '35 Women Under 35' list, out next month). But this smacks of lazy gender stereotyping to us: of course these skills can be useful in a recession, but they’re hardly the exclusive preserve of women. And what about those women who succeed in a recession because they’re competitive and single-minded; because they take risks and chase the money? Perhaps they’re just not the kind of people who feel the need to attend Business Link events...

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