Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

How Heartbreaks Help Entrepreneurs

And the question MIT should begin asking

During a panel discussion during the Collision Tech Conference, I learned that 17% of founders were women. The scary thing — it has been stuck here for the last 5 years. Why?

Why is it that men are deemed to be better entrepreneurs than women? Why is there a shocking difference between the amount of women entrepreneurs versus men?

I have a theory.

This came about a discussion I was having with a serial entrepreneur friend who headed a study at MIT investigating the main underlying patterns between what makes an entrepreneur. He said that at MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center

“We investigated education, gender, race, early work, income level etc. as potential influencers. We found at the end that the only thing that significantly increased the chance of someone becoming an entrepreneur was their parents. If one’s parents are entrepreneurs, one is much more likely to become one herself.”

My friend and I then went into speaking about the importance of interdisciplinary learning. He told me that he was able to become such an accomplished entrepreneur, not because of his impressive engineering and rocket science background at some of the top schools, but because he was in a fraternity that expanded his horizon of interactions.

He was no longer limited to his predominantly male “geeky” peers.

This opened doors for him to increase his social and emotional intelligence — specifically with women. Essentially, interacting with women allowed him to understand them, their needs and wants, as potential customers and expand his mind to think outside of an engineer mind.

Curiosity and pattern recognition took me a step further.

What if, interacting with women opened more doors than he believed? What if, mingling with women allows men to practice facing rejection? Facing vulnerability? Facing risk? In essence, develop perseverance — the key trait that really allows an entrepreneur to be successful.

Imagine, whenever a man tries going after a woman, he puts himself out there facing all sorts of adversity, rejection, and vulnerability. After several failed attempts but a few wins, he grows stronger and hedges his bets — weighing risk and developing perseverance to try again and again.

Does this not sound like the recipe for a great entrepreneur?

Meanwhile, the social norm is that women do not make the first move. Therefore, it is seldom they face rejection from putting themselves out there going after a man. How often do men try picking up a woman at a bar? Can you say women pick up men at the bar even mildly close? No, she is usually in her tower waiting on someone to approach her.

On the flip side, this doesn’t seem to be the case for many of my female entrepreneurial friends who approach dating in a very go-getter attitude — myself included. They embrace the risk (just as they do with their ventures) and go after what they want. So at the end of the day, it seems to really boil down to NOT whether the relationship turmoil came first or the entrepreneurial spirit, like the chicken or the egg scenario, BUT RATHER, how risking heartbreak indicates entrepreneurial spirit and we need more women comfortable with this.

Rejection sucks, yes, but maybe it is about time she begins to go after what she wants and embrace being rejected as building perseverance.

When our conversation got to this point, it really peaked my friend’s interest as his study at MIT did not even scratch the surface on the personal love life of the participants.

Can you imagine an MIT study asking,

How often did you face rejection in your love life?

I believe it’s about time it did.

Just a theory.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard and you pour so much of your life into this thing, there are such rough moments in time that most people give up. And I don’t blame them, it’s really tough.” — Steve Jobs

Tara Demren is a social entrepreneur & insight capturer who is fascinated about startup culture. Tara is also the host of Tea Time with Tara, which curates high quality content for aspiring entrepreneurs and shares life takeaways for all.

Next → Entrepreneurship Is The Epitome of Vulnerability