Women entrepreneurs, example not exception
Women’s educational choices and women’s horizontal and vertical segregation in employment, result in the number or stock of women that could potentially set up a business in science and technology or turn an invention into a profitable market product being lower than the number of men.
Science and technology, innovation and inventions are concepts mostly associated with men and male areas making these fields less attractive to women, resulting in women-related invention and innovation being less recognised as valuable.
Stereotypes about women: science and technology, innovation and invention are male dominated sectors, in which women are perceived by market stakeholders as less credible or less professional. This means that women entrepreneurs are sometimes seen with scepticism by potential clients, suppliers and business partners and have to be more persistent to prove their knowledge, skills and capacities.
Traditional views about the role of women in society and greater difficulties in balancing family responsibilities with working in fast-moving and competitive sectors that expects long and flexible working hours and constant training to be up-to-date with new technological development and market opportunities.
Difficulties in accessing finance: in general women entrepreneurs find it more difficult than men to access finance. The issue of accessing adequate finance is a greater problem in science and technology sectors and when a woman is trying to develop an innovation or invention for two main reasons, firstly these sectors often require substantial investments (i.e. product development, product marketing, etc.) and, secondly, women attempting to operate in these sectors are seen as less credible by financial stakeholders and investors.
Lack of access to relevant technical, scientific and general business networks. Access to these networks is essential to develop business ideas, meet potential clients, suppliers and business partners, understand the market with its developments, opportunities and weaknesses, and get strategic information, cooperation and support. Lack of business training when undertaking technical and scientific studies presenting entrepreneurship as a possible and achievable employment opportunity for women.
Women’s perception that they lack personal/entrepreneurship skills such as self confidence, assertiveness and risk-taking. In general, women more than men report the lack of these personal and entrepreneurial skills as being an issue in starting a business. This is potentially a greater obstacle in science and technology sectors where both male dominance and levels of risk and uncertainty are higher.
Lack of role models sending positive messages that women can be successful in these sectors and fields of activities and to whom women could turn for mentoring and advice.
The EU Commission has produced a very valuable “Womens Entrepreneurship Portal” This is an excellent resource for further learning and to direct your female start-up clients to.
In addition for further reading on the topic we recommend the “Women Innovators and Entrepreneurship” report