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New research identifies gender funding gap

A global survey of entrepreneurs published to mark International Women’s Day has found that there is a significant gender difference when it comes to raising finance.

The second annual International Women’s Day Entrepreneurship Survey by 99designs has found that 28% of men polled have raised $100K or more to start their business, compared to 15% of women. This gender-based funding gap has not changed in the past year - last year’s survey showing a gap of 12% vs 6%, respectively.

The survey has been published to mark this week’s International Women’s Day (8 March). Its findings also show that female entrepreneurs are more likely to be operating home-based businesses (68% vs 48% of men) and sole proprietorships (49% of women vs 31% of men) than their male counterparts. They were also more likely to say they put in a “second shift” at night - 67% vs 61% for men.

Overall, however, the survey revealed that male and female entrepreneurs share more similarities than differences. For instance, they have the same motivations for starting a business (passion or expertise in one area and a desire for more freedom) and they cite the same fears (finding new customers and getting out of their comfort zone).

Another new survey, published by Sodexo, has found that teams with gender diversity achieve better results. The five-year study examined women across all levels of management and found that more balanced leadership teams experienced a higher employee engagement rate, better employee retention, higher client retention and better operating margins.

Sean Haley, chairman of Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “By putting our head above the parapet and actually conducting research on our own workforce, we have been able to prove that gender-balanced leadership not only makes business sense, but can enhance the quality of life of our employees.”

However, a ComRes poll of 150 MPs commissioned by Young Women’s Trust has found that 58% of MPs say employers are not doing enough to tackle gender inequality in the workplace. Women MPs are the most pessimistic - 73% do not think they will see equality in their lifetime, compared to 26% of male MPs.

Also this week, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has launched a campaign aimed at boosting the number of female entrepreneurs; 100 women entrepreneurs from across the UK will be “digital role models” on International Women’s Day.

Helen Walbey, chair of the FSB women in enterprise taskforce, said: “Research shows that women are less likely than their male counterparts to know a person in business and, as a result, have fewer opportunities to benefit from exposure to others with business experience and are less likely to see people like themselves succeeding. With this being the 100 year anniversary of when the first women got the right to vote … we felt it was fitting to feature 100 women FSB members and share their wealth of advice and inspiration with women all over the world.”