Gender Watch

As women forge ahead in small business, a distinctive female view may be seen forming. Take the reasons that a person gives for starting a business in the first place--a question posed in a Roper Starch poll done for Intuit: The chance to make money was a factor for 31% of the men but only for 18% of the women, while the opportunity to be your own boss mattered to 62% of the men, but to just 48% of the women. Women consistently gave personal goals more weight.

A smaller, U.S. Trust survey of top women business owners turned up other disparities, including the political gender gap. Example: Only 18% of these high earners--compared to 63% of similar male business owners--think that the government has made things "much worse" for business lately.

Why are these women in business in the first place? About three-quarters cited the discrimination prevailing in the corporate world as their key motivation, agreeing that the old-boy network limits corporate success--in pay, promotion, and just plain being taken seriously.

Women even have different plans for their business legacy. A Coopers & Lybrand survey of fast-growing, female-headed firms found 59% of women plan to pass the business along eventually to a close family member. Among their male counterparts at similar firms, however, only about 22% have such plans.

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