Bill Morrow, founder of Angels Den, the investment network
Everyone knows that men and women are rarely thumbing through the same book, let alone settling on the same page. Some people have made a fortune speculating on ways for us to understand one another better. But after all the research, prize-winning paperbacks and scientific publications, the mystery largely remains.
Speaking as a Y chromosome-toting entrepreneur, it is not easy for me to admit this, but facts are facts, and it is the more frugal and pragmatic attitude that women bring to their business planning that will see them succeed where many of their male counterparts may fail in the impending recession.
Research consultancy Delta Economics recently ran a survey to see how the gender war extended to navigating through the economic high seas. It discovered that the main reason why women fare better in tougher times is that they are more careful with their money. While male entrepreneurs were happy to push the financial boat out to propel their businesses forward no matter what the weather on the horizon, women were more reluctant to over-extend themselves.
During a recession finance is more difficult to raise and pay back, and the prospect of future interest rate increases ensures that men are more likely to have a leaner time of it. Angels Den has facilitated successful partnerships between female entrepreneurs and Angel investors, but the paradox remains that while being risk-averse is an excellent strategy for surviving a recession, it is often the risk-takers who will outshine the rest of the pack.
Margaret Manning, CEO of digital communications agency Reading Room and female entrepreneur of the year
Women are no better placed to deal with recession than men. I take exception
to blatant stereotyping of women, who are constantly portrayed as being more cautious and "maternal" in their employment policies. Women who are successful in business have to be more determined, faster and more ambitious than their male counterparts, for no other reason than to overcome the type of stereotypical views expressed in the Delta Economics research, which found that half of women surveyed saw the health of the economy as a problem compared with two-thirds of men.
By the time women are at a stage in their business careers where Delta considers them relevant enough to survey, they are likely to be more confident about that business because they have had to fight harder and longer to get there.
Show me a risk-averse woman and I'll show you an equally risk-averse man. Show me a woman willing to invest in her staff and I'll show you a man who does the same—not because he is emulating a woman but because he, too, understands that people are the most important asset in any business.
I couldn't have made a success of Reading Room had I taken a cautious approach to growth and borrowing. Yet I am confident about the future. Does this mean that because I am a woman I have nurtured my staff like a mother hen? Or does it mean, as I would hope it does, that I am—on my own merits—a good businesswoman?
In my opinion, to ask whether women are in a better position to survive a recession is completely missing the point. Women aren't necessarily better placed than men: it simply depends upon the individual in question.