Gender order and the BRW Young Rich List

I found myself shocked to see that only six women entrepreneurs/artists/sports women were listed in the BRW Young Rich list. Perhaps I should not have been surprised, but it has been my experience working and teaching entrepreneurs over the past three years that our women are overwhelmingly represented.

The BRW list features entrepreneurs Carolyn Creswell (Carmans Foods) and Tammy May (My Budget), models Erica Baxter and Miranda Kerr, artist Sia Furler and sportswoman Karrie Webb.

The men that dominate the list are most often in their 30’s, working in technology, sports or services and mainly Anglo-Saxon Australian. It can’t be the case that this is the only demographic of ‘smart’ but it does tell us a lot about the value of human capital (individually endowed value) like education, work experience, tacit knowledge, family background, demographic advantages and/or disadvantages.

Are our Australian business women with awesome ideas getting their fair share of capital investment? Are they networking in the same places the young male youthful rich people are? Are they supported to do higher business education? Are they competitive and hungry for the opportunity?

What if the answer to all these questions is yes…then what would we be facing? I argue that there is a gender order facilitating the over investment in young men and shying away from women entrepreneurs.

This week I attended the Melbourne Business School Alumni Dinner where Torres Strait Islander female entrepreneur Jasmin Herro (Outback Global) was awarded the MBS most outstanding recent Alumni award. Not only is Jasmin the first Australian Indigenous person to be awarded an MBS Alumni award, she is an alumni of the bespoke MURRA Indigenous Business Masterclass program developed to cultivate growth in the Indigenous enterprise sector.

I was speaking to a few people about this blog post and some of the reactions called my framing of the structural power differential between male and female entrepreneurs negative. In fact many people encouraged me to focus on positive examples instead of talking about gender as an key divide we all need to pay attention to.

I think it’s important to do both, and I think it’s important to ask what’s happening in the general investment environment. I am extremely excited by the achievements of Indigenous women entrepreneurs like Jasmin Herro, Kate Kelleher, Nicole Stewart, Sam Cook and the nearly thirty Indigenous women entrepreneurs I have worked with individually over the past three years. I also think it’s important to explore the context for success and the way the discourse of success swamps any investigation about unconscious bias in the investment sector.

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