Why we need women in business

‘There aren’t enough women in business,’ goes the age-old debate. When you listen to some commentators, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were stuck in a time where the right to vote was still a dream in the pretty little head of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Yet according to reports, only half as many women start their own businesses when compared to men.

Why is this? Legally we’re protected by equality laws; flexible working has made it far easier to juggle running a business with childcare commitments; and Margaret Thatcher proved decades ago that it’s possible for a woman to take the top job in the country (even if she did undermine our social fabric in the process).

Isn’t it time to just accept the fact that if women don’t want to go into business, then that’s fair enough – so let’s stop harping on about it?

The simple answer is, No.

Lack of confidence is the issue here, not desire. If it weren’t for the fear of failure, as much as a third of the female population would start a business, say reports.

And when it comes to the amount of women in business, we are trailing behind other countries. Gordon Brown, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: ‘If the UK could achieve the same levels of female entrepreneurship as the US, Britain would gain three-quarters of a million more businesses.’

Dragons’ Den investor Julie Meyer, believes that entrepreneurship is a quality that needs to be nurtured in females from a young age. ‘I think there is a huge thing to be done in getting at girls early, developing their self-confidence so they believe they have a unique contribution to the world and think of themselves as an investment opportunity,’ she says.

Saira Khan, ex contestant in The Apprentice, agrees: ‘Confidence and self-belief are the biggest problem for many women due to a lack of female business role models,’ she says.

Women simply don’t have the same amount of inspirational figures in the business milieu as men. If you try and name five female entrepreneurs, chances are you’ll struggle. More needs to be done to encourage women, not only into leadership roles, but to realise the leaps and bounds made in technology to allow people to work from home.

Tapping that unrealised talent will get more women into business in the first place, and that means extra jobs and a more enterprising nation as a whole.

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