At the end of last month, from April 24 through April 26, I had the distinct pleasure of joining the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO) at the 11th annual conference on innovation in Boston. WPO has 75 chapters across the U.S. consisting of 20 female leaders of privately held companies topping $2 million in annual revenue. (Women from service-based companies with greater than $1 million in gross annual sales are also eligible for membership). After checking in Wednesday night and asking the front desk to point me in the direction of ice cream, I dropped my bags in my room and took a moment to admire the view. Then, I began my journey to procure a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in milk chocolate from a drug store across the street.
Boston, as I'm sure you know, is full of dazzling Revolutionary architecture in its churches, libraries, and homes. Hosting a conference on innovation in this historic setting highlights the group's relatively short access to entrepreneurship. (I know, it's a bit of a logical stretch. My writing has gotten a little rusty since I moved from the editorial team.) During the Q&A for Malcolm Gladwell, who gave an opening keynote speech on differing innovation styles, addressed this point while fielding a question about why so few women-owned companies break the million dollar mark. (Shameless plug: I blogged about the New York Times report last fall and introduced you to one of these women in our March issue.) Gladwell asked whether it was the right question to ask. Based on how deep the roots of female entrepreneurship reach--not very deep, compared to the other gender--he inferred that it was an unfair standard.