Research reveals UK lags behind in number of female entrepreneurs

June 18th, 2013 .
Authored by Annabel Venner .
3 min read
A woman working with machinery
More needs to be done in this country to help women to run their own businesses, according to new research that has been published. The UK came sixth out of 17 countries in a ranking of the best places to be a female entrepreneur, behind the United States, Australia, Germany, France and Mexico.

The Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index graded the countries according to 30 criteria, which were grouped together under three categories: Entrepreneurial Environment, Entrepreneurial Eco-System and Entrepreneurial Aspirations.

Women and men across the world do not enjoy equal access to resources, which affects women’s ability to start and grow businesses, the report states. The index focuses on identifying and assessing the “gendered nature of factors”, which if tackled, could enable high potential female entrepreneurs an equal chance to flourish.

The index focused on what it refers to as “high-potential female entrepreneurs”: women who own businesses that are “innovative, market expanding and export oriented”.

There is no single obvious weakness that prevents more women from setting up their own businesses, the report says; most countries are confronted by their own unique combination of factors. The UK scored lower for Entrepreneurial Environment, than Entrepreneurial Eco-System and Aspiration.

Education is a big factor in encouraging women to have the confidence to set up their own business. Although the UK scores relatively well in terms of female higher education it has a lower score for highly educated female owners, showing that becoming an entrepreneur is not the career path chosen by many well-educated British women.

In comparison with the United States and Japan – two other high-income countries with stable and not overly-regulated business environments – UK women ranked highest in terms of perceiving the opportunity to set up a business, ranked on a par with US females (and above Japanese women) in having the skills to start up a business, but came bottom in terms of their willingness and risk appetite to launch a startup.

Social norms also play a big part in female entrepreneurship, in affecting a woman’s decision to take the risk to set up. Having positions of responsibility within companies can give women both the confidence and skills to launch a startup, but the UK ranks only seventh in the percentage of female managers in firms (behind the United States, France, Germany, Australia, Russia and Brazil).

The report raises the issue of governments introducing policies to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs. Gender-blind business measures do not support female-owned firms to the same extent as men-owned firms, it states. “To harness the full potential of a country’s human capital, it is critical to eliminate the gendered institutions and gender-based barriers that exclude a large portion of women from entrepreneurial pursuits,” the report concludes.

To read the Gender GEDI report click here: (external link)

If you’re a female business owner, let us know what you think.

Annabel Venner

Annabel Venner is Global Brand Director at Hiscox, she is also one of our Partners which she balances alongside being made a Fellow of The Marketing Society and winner of Financial Service Forum's Marketer of the Year 2012. Prior to Hiscox, she spent nine years at Coca-Cola establishing herself as a driver of growth. Venner is a regular speaker and judge at The Festival of Marketing.