Where are all the female entrepreneurs?

Just 9% of UK start-up funding goes to women-run businesses.

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Women are 21% less likely to consider an entrepreneurial route more attractive than working for someone else

The UK government is so concerned by the data on female entrepreneurship that it has unveiled an investigation into the issue. Banker Alison Rose has been asked to make recommendations to ministers on how to encourage more women to found their own enterprises.
 
Key findings:

  • A fifth (20%) of women were encouraged to commence their career in a role that did not reflect their professional aspirations or academic credentials at that time.
  • Men are 52% more likely to have more capital to start their own business than their parents did at their age compared to women (35% of men vs 23% of women).
  • Half of women believe that their professional success is down to personal merit, conviction and perseverance and not the guidance of academic or professional support. This is versus 57% of men (14% higher for men).
  • A third of women (34%) feel more disillusioned with the corporate ladder than their parents/grandparents were.
  • Nearly four in 10 (38%) of women do not feel that they will be richer than their parents. 
  • A third of women (33%) feel less supported by the government to start their own business venture than their parents were at their age.
  • Women are 21% less likely to consider an entrepreneurial route more attractive than working for some else than men (34% of men vs 28% of women).
  • Nearly a third of women (31%) are mindful or concerned about the impact of Brexit professionally and societally.

“Encouraging investment into female-founded businesses is clearly something that must be improved upon through legislation as well as fostering an environment in which women feel that they have the support and resources available to start businesses.”

The gap remains
 
Sentiments towards entrepreneurship still reflect a perceived advantage for men in the UK to start their own business over women:

  • Men are 52% more likely to have more capital than their parents to start a business than women (35% of men vs 23% of women).
  • Women are 21% less likely to consider an entrepreneurial route more attractive than working for someone else than men (34% of men vs 28% of women).
  • Half of women believe that their professional success is down to personal merit, conviction and perseverance and not the guidance of academic or professional support. This is versus 57% of men. (14% higher for men). 
  • Fewer than one in five small and medium-sized enterprises in the U.K. are led by women.
  • Two-thirds of women felt they had not been taken seriously by potential investors when raising money for new ventures.
  • Just 9% of UK start-up funding goes to women-run businesses.

The generational gap 
 
It also seems that women in the UK are feeling disillusioned with the amount of support they can get from the government when looking to set up a business. This is especially true when compared to the opportunities their parents may have had.

  • A third of women (34%) feel more disillusioned with the corporate ladder than their parents/grandparents were.
  • 33% of women feel less supported by the government to start their own business venture than their parents were at their age.
  • 38% of women do not feel that they will be richer than their parents. 
  • Meanwhile, a fifth of women feel like they were encouraged to commence their career in a role that did not reflect their professional aspirations or academic credentials at that time, including starting a business. 

Other studies

These findings support a study conducted by the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), which showed the disparity between the potential investment available for men and women. It found that over half (54%) of female Angel investors had backed at least one female-founded business whilst only a small minority of male investors had done the same.

This is worsened by the finding from the Women’s Entrepreneurship Index that men are three times more likely to have greater than £250,000 of investible assets available than women (9% of men vs 3% of women).
 
Luke Davis, CEO and Founder of the company that commissioned this research – IW Capital – commented on the findings: “Optimum productivity across our private sector can only be secured by utilising the full capacity of this nation’s diverse talent pool. Failing to do so will of course impede the growth and success of our economy, with up to 50% of the potential and subsequent productivity being restricted.
 
“The SME arena contributed £1.9 trillion to the UK's economy in 2017 and so making sure that it has the widest possible pool of talent to draw from is vital. As the backbone of the private sector, they will be a huge factor in determining the success of Brexit in March and onwards.

“Encouraging investment into female-founded businesses is clearly something that must be improved upon through legislation as well as fostering an environment in which women feel that they have the support and resources available to start businesses.”

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