Interns Insight: How do we get more women in business?

7634733National statistics
According to the House of Commons statistics from 2014 only 18% of small or medium sized enterprises are female led and only 22% of FTSE100 board members are female. These figures show that no matter how much politicians debate about the issue, the message is that women do not play as vital a role in business as men, something that needs changing. In terms of start-up’s the proportion of women involved in “total early stage entrepreneurial activity” or TEA is, according to the same statistics, 5% for women and 10% for men, translating as roughly half as many women starting up businesses as men.

International Women’s Day
Whilst on my internship I have been pleased to see that at Startup Direct the male to female split in businesses is far better than the national split with 38% of our business entrepreneurs being female. Recent press attention has highlighted the fact that Startup Direct is specifically helping women returners (women returning to work post children) start up businesses by providing them loans for franchises such as “Baby Sensory” which are flexible and can fit around a family. The Start-up Direct funding helps more women run their own businesses, putting more women in positions of responsibility whilst aiding the economy though increased enterprise. It is a step in the right direction, helped further by events such as International Women’s day which, through its message #makeithappen, has tried to get women together to reduce the inequality in business. Events like these continue to promote the cause of women all over the world.

Why are there less women entrepreneur’s?
However to even out the flawed ratio of men to women in business we need to think overall why less women are attracted to business start-up’s then men. What is it about starting your own business that is more attractive to men than women? Is there some testosterone producing gene that is linked to entrepreneurship? Are more men prepared to take on the risks of a startup? Is there better networking for men? Or are women just not having enough entrepreneurial ideas? No, I don’t think so. Recently Startup Direct has released statistics showing a huge increase in women over 30 starting businesses (it increased by 33% between 2013 and 2014), showing that there are women out there who want to start-up their own businesses. Maybe what is wrong is that the message just isn’t getting out to enough women that starting up a business is a viable option as a career. Therefore perhaps the next big revolution in business should be women led, to help more women into business.

The Startup Direct mentor’s are an extremely valued resource to Startup Direct. Through the help of mentors such as Geraldine Wharry, Julie Baker, Sue Moyce, Marianne Roling, Jill Ridley and so many more, women are inspiring entrepreneurship. This is vital as the more women we see in business, the more women who will see start-up’s as a career path option and the more businesswomen we will see. Startup Direct is currently recruiting mentors all over England, especially in Birmingham and the West Midlands. If you are a successful businesswoman and want to encourage enterprise in the UK, why not mentor? Lead by example, show the power of women and do your bit to even out the male to female statistics in business.