Saturday 12 June 2004

Female Entrepreneurship On The Increase - But Barriers Still To Overcome

The number of female entrepreneurs in the UK has improved over the last three years - but there are still significant difficulties to overcome, says a new study. New research by the British Chamber of Commerce, based on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey of 22,000 adults of working age, noted the improvement but found that there is still much work to be done to encourage women in business.

The study found that, compared to its global competitors, the UK ranks 7th behind countries including the US, Canada, Greece and Spain. Moreover, for every ten male entrepreneurs in the UK there are four female entrepreneurs - a gap that is wider than Canada, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

But attitudes are starting to change. Women surveyed for the UK Global Entrepreneurship Monitor since 2001 are increasingly positive about their ability to start up a business and the availability of entrepreneurial opportunities. In 2003 there was an increase of 27% in the number of women who felt they had the skills to start a business compared with 2001. Importantly the study found that women are as likely as men to feel that entrepreneurship is a good career choice and a high status activity. However, female businesses still have lower turnovers than their male counterparts. Dr. Rebecca Harding, Director of GEM UK and the author of the report said, "There is a lot here to celebrate about female entrepreneurship. Women are more likely to be seeking out opportunities than men, are more innovative and have stronger networks with other businesses and research institutions. The challenge now is how to unlock this potential since, by encouraging women into business, the government could clearly make strides in achieving its strategy of innovation-led growth through enterprise."

Based on the results of this study, the BCC has made a number of recommendations which will involve the government, industry, trade associations and the media working together to:

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The third edition of bdaily Xtra features an interview with Dinah Bennett, programme director of Women Into the Network (WIN), and senior tutor at Durham University's Business School more >