Telling the truth about SME life today

Men more likely to be entrepreneurs, but women equally ambitious for growth

There has been a rapid rise in the number of startups in the UK in recent years, with the number of female entrepreneurs accelerating at a much faster pace than men.

In fact, according to research from Aston University, which analysed data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the proportion of female early-stage entrepreneurs jumped 45 per cent between 2003-6 and 2013-16. In comparison, the number of male entrepreneurs rose by just 27 per cent.
However, overall men are still more likely to be entrepreneurs (10.4 per cent of men compared to just 5.5 per cent of women).

Dr Karen Bonner, senior researcher at Aston Business School, said: ?On the one hand, we could point to different societal expectations, with women still taking on the bulk of unpaid caring roles and entrepreneurship still stereotyped as a ?male career choice in our wider culture.

“When asked why they started their business women are significantly more likely to cite ?greater flexibility for my personal and family life and the desire for “freedom to adapt my own approach to work” than men.

But despite these differences, and controlling for other factors like sector, age and startup capital, both men and women display similar levels of ambition when it comes to growing their businesses.
The research also found that there are large disparities between different parts of the country. For example, seven per cent of women in the South East would describe themselves as early-stage entrepreneurs, but under three per cent in the North East would say the same.

The West Midlands came close to gender parity with 74 female entrepreneurs for every 100 males.
These regional differences could be to do with different opportunities in these areas for scaling up businesses, such as the presence of a higher number of graduates.

Mark Hart, professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, explained: “We know from previous GEM research that mobile individuals, who also tend to be university graduates, are more likely to become entrepreneurs.

“This appears to fit with the experience in these regions and the growth of places like Birmingham and Leicester as thriving diverse and dynamic cities providing many opportunities for new venture creation.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.


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