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:
- Promote female entrepreneurs as role models.
- Place more emphasis on the importance of networks, and on collecting and disseminating best practice on how women use networks.
- Continue to promote and to spread best practice of women-friendly business support.
- Improve attitudes and confidence among young people.
- Pilot investor ready training with gender in mind.
- Strengthen the evidence base on female business ownership and self-employment.
- Promote strategies to increase women entrepreneurs' access to markets.
- Press for innovative childcare solutions to encourage more women to start businesses.
- Place a renewed emphasis on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Women's Enterprise.
- Obtain government commitment at the highest level to mainstream the development of women's enterprise.