The Present and the Future

Gender Differences in the Nature and Scale of Entrepreneurial Activity and Potential Activity in the UK

Cowling M, Harding R | Working Paper WP6 | Institute for Employment Studies | Jan 2007

Gender issues have been at the forefront of academic and political discussion in the context of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity.

In this paper we provide detailed evidence from a UK adult population survey on various measures of entrepreneurial activity or potential activity. In doing so we not only put hard figures on the nature of women's involvement, but show precisely what types of women are physically active as entrepreneurs, or are likely to become engaged in future entrepreneurial activity. For comparative purposes we present identical information for men.

The key findings are that Caribbean women and African men are the most entrepreneurial along with women born in Northern Ireland but who migrated to other regions of the UK. For both men and women cultural/attitudinal orientation is important, as are entrepreneurial role models.

Significantly, fear of failure is not a deterrent for women. It is for men. Finally, our evidence suggests that the gender gap will close slightly over the next few years if entrepreneurial intentions are converted into actions.