Empowering Women In Network Marketing: Breaking Stereotypes

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Empowering Women In Network Marketing: Breaking Stereotypes

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The two researchers paint a more detailed picture of not just female entrepreneurs but the variety of women who move in and out of the workforce at different stages of careers.

For decades, the Avon Lady has been a symbol of female entrepreneurship for many people. Avon describes this merger of past Avon representatives who made a living the company's beauty products as “one of the most enduring and iconic images of female entrepreneurship” on its website.

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This icon reinforces the research's portrayal of female entrepreneurs. Some studies show that female entrepreneurs work less and earn less than male entrepreneurs. Others believe that women are less capable of networking than men and that they rely too much on friends and family and not enough on a broad network. Picture a female entrepreneur, and you might picture a woman taking charge of a business, perhaps in a female-centric industry like cosmetics or child care. Maybe your imaginary entrepreneur got there after hitting a glass ceiling, or maybe she started her own business to balance family and work responsibilities.

The entrepreneurial journey doesn't just go in one direction. Take Joan Treistman, for example, who graduated from Booth School of Business in 1969 with an MBA.

But Jennifer L. Merluzzi of Tulane University, who earned her PhD from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is troubled by these characterizations, which she says are overly broad and often inaccurate. The research behind them, she said, has been limited by methodologies and ended up either giving a universal definition of female entrepreneurs that lacks nuance or drawing conclusions about female entrepreneurs based solely on their relationships to male entrepreneurs. “Comparisons shouldn't be between men versus women, entrepreneurs versus non-entrepreneurs. There are a lot of gray areas,” Melluzzi claims.

Her ongoing research on female entrepreneurs with Ronald S. Burt, the W. Williams Professor of Sociology and at Hobart, contradicts these conventional views. The two researchers used a proprietary data sample to paint a more detailed picture that includes not just female entrepreneurs but a variety of women who move in and out of the workforce at different stages of their careers.

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Harvard Business School admits that only 8% of case studies used in its MBA courses feature women, while EY's Women in Entrepreneurship program, now in its sixth year, aims to identify female entrepreneurs who need to “think bigger.” The aim is to help them do this.

This begs the question, what do we know about today's female business leaders during the “Decade of Women Entrepreneurship” (as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation calls it), and what do we think we only know?

In some cases, research on female entrepreneurs relies on small, homogeneous data sets of dozens of women in a single location. Other studies rely on large data sets (such as those from the census) that can smooth out nuance. In contrast, the data used by Melluzzi and Burt provide sufficiently large and detailed data to understand the career choices of working women. The sample included 814 respondents ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s. Some are entrepreneurs; some are entrepreneurs; others are not. They have two things in common: They are both women and have MBAs from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The source is a Booth alumni survey conducted by Burt in 1998, coinciding with the school's 100th anniversary. To learn more about female graduates and their involvement (or lack thereof) in their schools, he mailed a 31-page questionnaire to every female MBA alumnus alive since 1937. It took up to two hours to complete and complete. The alumna was asked about her family, current job, network, values ​​and perceptions of work, and barriers for women in business. About one in five people returned the survey.

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Burt shared the survey with school leadership, then turned it to other research, much of it related to social networking. Years later, he offered it to his former doctoral advisor, Merouz, who he knew was interested in female entrepreneurs.

What makes these survey data unique, Merluzzi said, is the opportunity they provide to look at female entrepreneurs and more graduates choosing other routes. Investigators can compare working women to each other, not just to men. It also enables them to consider female entrepreneurs within the context of their labor market counterparts and women who to leave paid work.

The data shows that a quarter of the women in the survey have become entrepreneurs at some point, although starting a business right out of school is rare: 97% of the 814 respondents worked directly for someone else after graduation. But over time, the entrepreneurial craze spread—eventually, 15% quit their jobs and started their own full-time jobs, and 9% went on to start their own business while continuing to work as employees. side business.

Researchers have uncovered clues about how and why some women become entrepreneurs and others don't. Many people who become entrepreneurs experience major life events, such as divorce or parenthood, when starting their business. Early entrepreneurship research identified women's difficulty balancing family and work obligations as a primary reason for their independent entrepreneurial ventures, but Merluzzi and Burt found evidence that these women became entrepreneurs regardless. “Over their lifetimes, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs are equally likely to marry, have , divorce, or remarry,” they write. “However, when a woman experiences these events, she becomes an entrepreneur The odds go up. In a window of time around the event, a woman who was otherwise inclined to become an entrepreneur actually made the transition.” Family appears to predict when, but not whether, women become entrepreneurs. entrepreneur.

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Another factor is the field in which women work. Women in service industries are more likely to attempt part-time or full-time self-employment than women in other industries.

The size of the employer also matters, as does career progression. Graduates who start working in large organizations are more likely to go on to be employed by others than graduates working in smaller companies. Women who enter senior management positions in any organization are less likely to start their own business – they are already running their own business within a larger company.

Using the data Burt collected, Merluzzi and Burt divided female entrepreneurs into three groups instead of one. “Junior Entrepreneurs” work full-time for themselves. “Junior Entrepreneurs on Interruption” go from full-time entrepreneur to employee and back again. A “secondary entrepreneur” works as a full-time employee of a company while also running their own business.

All three groups were represented in 23% of graduates surveyed who found work after graduation but later started their own business. According to the report's analysis, Booth alumni most likely to become junior entrepreneurs are employees below the senior level of small consulting services firms.

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Joan Treistman, a survey respondent from the Class of 1969, is a discontinued junior entrepreneur. When Trestman suggested that she and two colleagues offer to acquire the company where they had been working, “it was a knee-jerk reaction,” Trestman recently explained. During her forty years as a marketing researcher and consultant, she did a variety of work for others and herself. She most enjoys making her own decisions, but sometimes needs the resources a larger company can provide.

Among all female entrepreneurs surveyed, women started their business on average in their thirties, and their first solo venture lasted an average of eight and a half years. Their companies averaged seven employees, including the entrepreneur himself, and their best year saw total revenue peak at $322,000 to $14 million. Nearly all entrepreneurs (96%) started some kind of service business, including investment advisory firms, marketing and management consulting firms, and professional offices such as legal and medical clinics. A woman founded a health care services company that at its peak had 600 employees. But at the same time

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