Barriers still need to be breached by women entrepreneurs


ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 1 May 2000




Pickles, J. (2000), "Barriers still need to be breached by women entrepreneurs", Facilities, Vol. 18 No. 5/6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Barriers still need to be breached by women entrepreneurs

Edited by Jenny Pickles,New Developments Section Editor

Barriers still need to be breached by women entrepreneurs

Keywords Entrepreneurs, Women

Preliminary figures released from a report suggest that, although women find it easier to become entrepreneurs now than they did a decade ago, there is still some way to go to bring the level of UK women engaged in entrepreneurial activities up to that seen in the USA.

The Ernst & Young Enterpriser Survey 2000 reports on the activities and opinions of more than 500 entrepreneurs throughout the UK, 7 per cent of whom were women.

In answer to the question "Do you think it is easier for a woman today to become an entrepreneur than it was ten years ago?", 77 per cent of men and 74 per cent of women gave an unequivocal "yes", while 17 per cent (men) and 21 per cent (women) said they could see no change.

There were regional variations, with 85 per cent of participants in Scotland and 82 per cent in the North saying it was now easier for women to break into the field in contrast only 68 per cent of entrepreneurs in the Midlands felt this to be the case. The survey's findings also suggest that respondents in property and construction (85 per cent) and consumer and retailing (86 per cent) were more likely to believe that it was easier for women to become entrepreneurs today than ten years ago.

David Wilkinson, National Head of Entrepreneurial Services for Ernst & Young, says: "Despite these encouraging results, in practice the UK experience is in sharp contrast to that of the USA, where the percentage of women starting new businesses is three times higher."

Asked what would be likely to encourage women to become entrepreneurs, high profile role models had the highest rating (72 per cent), followed by affordable, flexible child care (56 per cent). There was also felt to be some merit in a campaign to change attitudes towards women in business (45 per cent).

"We offered people the option to choose Government-led initiatives as a means of levelling out the playing field, but less than a third (30 per cent) thought this worth considering with 36 per cent believing that such initiatives were unlikely to encourage more women entrepreneurs. The results suggest that the business community sees the solution to this problem very much in its own hands," comments David Wilkinson.

The survey also looked at the gender split at board level and found that 40 per cent of the businesses represented by respondents had one or more female directors. Again, the results indicate that there are regional variations between entrepreneurial businesses in the South (46 per cent) and the North (43 per cent) compared to those in Scotland (33 per cent) and the Midlands (35 per cent).

These figures were given early release to coincide with the launch of the Entrepreneur of the Year 2000 awards programme, founded and produced by Ernst & Young and co-sponsored nationally in the UK by The Citibank Private Bank, Vodafone and The Times.

"High profile role models came out as a clear favourite for promoting entrepreneurship as an option for women in the future," said David Wilkinson. "Entrepreneur of the Year 2000 is about raising the profiles of all nominees, finalists and award recipients, whether they are male or female, to help entrepreneurs achieve the status they deserve" (see Awards section for further details).

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