In the global push towards equality, a particular area remains conspicuously unequal – entrepreneurship. In the face of gender diversity and initiatives towards equal opportunities, there’s a prevalent disparity between female and male entrepreneurs, a discrepancy highlighted by Shalini Khemka, CBE.

Shalini Khemka CBE
Shalini Khemka CBE

Current Landscape of Female Entrepreneurship

An OECD survey presents a clear picture of this disparity within the EU, showing that women are only 60% as likely as men to engage in self-employment. This statistic isn’t reflective of the capabilities of women, who have repeatedly proven their aptitude in establishing and operating successful businesses.

The Influence of Age on Entrepreneurship

Interestingly, this discrepancy isn’t significantly influenced by age. Young women, those within the age bracket of 20-29 years, show comparable levels of entrepreneurial confidence and likelihood of starting a business to their male peers.

The Prevailing Global Gender Gap

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report further illuminates this issue. Despite considerable advances in educational qualifications for women, the report estimates that we are still almost a century away from achieving global gender parity.

Entrepreneurs Across Different Economies

An examination of different economic climates reveals varied gender gaps within entrepreneurship. Middle-income countries experience more significant gaps, whereas lower-income countries report narrower disparities, possibly because many women in these regions become entrepreneurs out of necessity. Notably, women in less wealthy countries often display greater entrepreneurial confidence and lower fear of failure than those in wealthier nations.

Role of Family and Marriage in Entrepreneurship

Marriage and family also play pivotal roles in this entrepreneurial landscape. While the concept of the working woman has evolved and two-income families have become more common, men are still more likely to venture into entrepreneurship. Often, married women with young children opt for entrepreneurship over paid employment for its flexibility. However, this sometimes leads to the perception that their businesses are financially supported by their partners.

The Potential within Female Entrepreneurship

Despite these trends, the potential for growth within female entrepreneurship is considerable. The book, We See Ourselves as Entrepreneurs, But Others See Gender and Race by Trish Cotter, offers noteworthy statistics on the American sector:

  • Women establish an average of 1,817 new businesses daily, constituting 42% of all new businesses in the US.
  • Women-owned businesses grow twice as fast on average as all businesses nationwide.
  • Women of colour, in particular, start businesses at a rate 4.5 times that of all businesses.

The Need for Institutional Support

However, achieving this potential may necessitate institutional support. For instance, in the UK, entrepreneurs previously benefited from services provided by organizations like Business Link and local Enterprise Agencies. However, these were discontinued in 2011. In their absence, the establishment of strong networks is crucial to provide support and guidance to new female entrepreneurs.

The state of female entrepreneurship presents a complex issue, but it’s clear that increased representation could greatly contribute to sustainable economic growth. To enable this, providing effective networks and institutional support for female entrepreneurs remains paramount.