Government-backed online tool launched to “unlock female potential”

Since 2009 the number of self-employed women has increased by 34 per cent. By comparison over the past five years the number of self-employed men has risen by 15 per cent to 3.1m. Despite the rise in women being self-employed, men still make up 68 per cent of self-employed workers.

ONS statistics suggest that work in skilled trades in male-dominated industries such as construction “have suffered more” from the effects of the economic crisis than the service sector and professional occupations that self-employed women tend to work in.

This explains why the number of women in self-employment has been increasing at double the rate that it has for men. The top three occupations for self-employed women are cleaners and domestics, childminders and related occupations and hairdressers and barbers.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Nation’s Home Business Report 2014 found that of the 2.9m homepreneurs in the UK, 64 per cent of them were women. This equates to around 1.7m females running businesses from home, contributing an estimated £180bn to the British economy alone.

Read more about female entrepreneurship:

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation said: “Despite a huge increase in female entrepreneurship rates here, women in the US are still twice as likely as women in the UK to start a business.

“And once they are running a business, studies show women are likely to find it more difficult than men to obtain finance, they also have a lack of awareness of the support available – as well as that level of self-belief that often propels men towards higher growth.”

The government-funded online Self Assessment Kit has been designed to help women-led firms identifying gaps in knowledge, experience and confidence. Enterprise Nation claims that it was made “in conjunction with psychology experts and moderated through focus groups and early-stage trials conducted with female entrepreneurs”.

Although the kit has been marketed toward female users, it will be available to men as well.

Jones said: “This kit works on the basis that women have exactly the same ability as men to start-up, and through gentle questioning, identifies gaps and suggests an individual training and advice programme to address these issues and unlock female potential.

“This in turn will help to dispel the myth that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be a Gordon Gekko type, driving fast cars, splashing the cash – and all that stereotype conjures up. We hope it will lead to a world where being steady, careful and competent is also a key predictor of success.”

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss Real Business’s First Women programme:

Drawing on ten years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit – designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.

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