Today, we're shining a spotlight on an incredibly vibrant, yet often overlooked section of the business world: Women in entrepreneurship in the UK. While the entrepreneurial journey is a challenging one for anyone, women often face unique hurdles. But fear not! They are also achieving remarkable success. Let's delve into their world and conclude with some ideas on how we can support more women and girls to join the entrepreneurial ranks.
Firstly, let's address the elephant in the room: barriers. Despite progress, gender bias remains a significant obstacle. A 2019 study by the British Business Bank found that for every £1 of venture capital investment, all-female founder teams received less than 1p, while all-male founder teams received 89p. This stark disparity in funding is often attributed to unconscious bias among investors and the underrepresentation of women in decision-making positions within investment firms.
Secondly, there are cultural norms and expectations. Many women continue to bear the brunt of domestic responsibilities, alongside their entrepreneurial activities. Balancing these demands can create a "double burden" that may limit the time and energy they can devote to their businesses.
Thirdly, there's the confidence gap. Research indicates that women are often less likely than men to view themselves as capable entrepreneurs. This lack of self-belief can hold them back from pursuing opportunities or seeking funding.
Now, let's flip the coin and celebrate some success stories. The UK boasts an inspiring array of female entrepreneurs who've broken through these barriers.
Take Anne Boden. Founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a mobile-based regulated bank that allows users to keep better track of their finances. Starling Bank is one of just six UK unicorn companies (businesses worth more than one billion dollars) to be female-founded.
In the realm of tech, there's tech pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley. She founded an all-woman software company in the 1960s, which ultimately paved the way for flexible and remote working. Her innovative approach to business is a testament to the power of 'thinking outside the box'.
And let's not forget Anya Hindmarch. She took a passion for design and created a global fashion brand. Her eponymous company is now a beacon of British style, showing that creativity and commerce can go hand in hand.
So, how can we encourage more women and girls to become entrepreneurs? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Promote Entrepreneurship Education:
By integrating entrepreneurship into the school curriculum, we can begin to foster entrepreneurial skills and mindsets from a young age.
2. Increase Access to Capital:
We need to address the gender funding gap by encouraging more women to become investors and promoting the success of women-led businesses to the wider investment community.
3. Mentorship and Networking:
Let's create more opportunities for aspiring female entrepreneurs to connect with established ones. Mentorship can provide invaluable insights, while networking can open doors to new opportunities.
4. Promote Flexible Working Conditions:
By normalising flexible work schedules and supporting childcare services, we can help to alleviate the 'double burden' faced by many women.
5. Boost Confidence and Showcase Role Models:
We need to challenge the stereotypes that undermine women's confidence in their entrepreneurial abilities and better showcase role models. This could be through media campaigns, workshops, or inspirational talks by successful female entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, while women in entrepreneurship in the UK face certain barriers, they are also achieving incredible success, breaking through boundaries and reshaping industries. From Anne Boden in online banking to Dame Stephanie Shirley in tech and Anya Hindmarch in fashion, these women are demonstrating the immense potential of female entrepreneurship.
However, to unlock this potential across the board, we must actively work towards breaking down the barriers that still exist. This requires a collective effort from governments, educational institutions, investment firms, businesses, and indeed society as a whole. We must promote entrepreneurship education, increase access to capital, facilitate mentorship and networking, endorse flexible working conditions, and boost confidence among women and girls.
By doing so, we can ensure a brighter, more equitable future for entrepreneurship in the UK. We can inspire and empower more women and girls to take the entrepreneurial leap and, in doing so, enrich our economy and society with their innovative ideas, unique perspectives, and indomitable spirit.
So, here's to the female entrepreneurs of the UK, and to those yet to come. May we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them. The future of entrepreneurship is exciting, and it is definitely female!
Legendary TEDxBrayford Pool host Katy Baggott is joined by Laura Serrant, Eleanor Hancock, Rachael Hunt and Roz Edwards in this panel looking at trailblazing women in entrepreneurship.
TEDxBrayford Pool 2023: Spectrums features a majority female cohort representing incredible the best of thinkers, doers, leaders and changemakers from within our community.
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