Women Entrepreneurs are Key to Accelerating Growth
Bottom Line: The influx of women into the labor force has ushered in significant gains in economic growth and worker productivity. Yet, fewer women have become entrepreneurs, meaning their potential contributions to job creation, innovation, and economic growth have not been realized. Public policy measures to close this gap can unleash a wealth of ingenuity and creativity that can spark a new era of entrepreneur-led growth in America.
Research shows women make great entrepreneurs. They bring particular skillsets such as a more nuanced view of risk, identifying more strongly than men as financial risk takers, while remaining concerned about “fool hardy risks.” They also display greater ambitions to become serial entrepreneurs than their male counterparts.
Women face unique barriers to entrepreneurship:
- Mentors are in Short Supply -- Nearly half of women entrepreneurs state that a challenge facing their business is the lack of available mentors.
- Entrepreneurship is Perceived as a Masculine Activity -- Research has shown that there is an implicit bias against women as entrepreneurs, where people are less likely to believe that women have the skills to succeed as entrepreneurs, making it harder for them to secure funding.
- Women Face Additional Hurdles Maintaining a Work-Life Balance -- Nearly three-quarters of births are to women between the ages of twenty and thirty-four. Women face additional pressures due to parenthood that result in lower rates of entrepreneurship.
Five policy recommendations to help pave the way for women entrepreneurs:
- Develop and Report Metrics for Entrepreneurship Programs and Initiatives -- To understand how entrepreneurship programming serves women, attendance, participation, drop off rates, and entrepreneurial outcomes should be collected and reported by gender.
- Increase the Number of Women Represented in Entrepreneurship Programs -- When women are leaders at organizations that support entrepreneurs, they can help develop gender inclusive events that attract women entrepreneurs, as well as use their networks to help women entrepreneurs access mentors and financial capital.
- Increase Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding to Women-owned Businesses -- In 2012, only 15 percent of SBIR awards went to women-owned businesses. Federal agencies should continue to increase awareness of the availability of these awards by partnering with women’s professional organizations and unifying outreach efforts to women entrepreneurs.
- Celebrate Successful Women Entrepreneurs -- Stories of entrepreneurial success tend to be male-dominated. Government leaders can help deconstruct the false narrative that only men are successful entrepreneurs by lifting up stories of successful women entrepreneurs.
- Decrease the Risk of Becoming an Entrepreneur -- Explore how various policies can help alleviate pressures and risks facing women, particularly those with young families, which can deter them from entrepreneurial ventures.
Read the full report here.
- Fewer women have become entrepreneurs, meaning their potential contributions to job creation, innovation, and economic growth have not been realized.
- Women face unique barriers to entrepreneurship, including mentors in short supply, the perception that entrepreneurship is masculine, and maintaining a work-life balance.
- Public policy measures to close this gap can unleash a wealth of ingenuity and creativity that can spark a new era of entrepreneur-led growth in America.