Entrepreneurship fuels economic growth, with new and young businesses accounting for nearly all net new job creation. Increasing the number of entrepreneurs, and creating conditions for them to succeed, has the potential to improve economic opportunities for all Americans.
The influx of women into the labor force ushered in significant gains in economic growth and worker productivity. Research shows this rise in the women’s share of the workforce since just the 1980s is responsible for as much as 11 percent of 2012 GDP. While more women sought and found employment in greater numbers, their participation as entrepreneurs was uneven. Fewer women became entrepreneurs, meaning their potential contributions to job creation, innovation, and economic growth were unrealized.
Today, women remain underrepresented among the ranks of entrepreneurs. In fact, they are half as likely as men to start a business. This discrepancy is not just a gender or a fairness issue—it is an issue of economic growth. By addressing the gender gap in entrepreneurship, policymakers can unleash a wealth of ingenuity and creativity that can spark a new era of entrepreneur-led growth in America.
“To the extent that half of the American population and more than half of our educated population are not fully participating in the engine of growth and innovation, it is an opportunity to avoid the ‘secular stagnation’ that is now expected for the American economy.”
Women entrepreneurs bring particular sets of skills that not only set them apart from their male counterparts, but also lend themselves to being successful entrepreneurs.
Mentors are in Short Supply
Nearly half of women entrepreneurs state that a challenge facing their business is the lack of available mentors. Mentorship plays an important role in developing successful entrepreneurs, for both men and women. If women are unable to find mentors, they may fail to reach their full entrepreneurial potential.
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. This perception makes it harder for women entrepreneurs to secure funding. In addition, this cultural assumption that entrepreneurship is a masculine activity might dissuade women from considering entrepreneurship in the first place.
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. Research also has shown that women with STEM Ph.D.s are significantly less likely to engage in entrepreneurship if they have a child under age two, while there is no statistical difference in entrepreneurial rates of male STEM Ph.D.s with a child under age two.
Develop and Report Metrics for Entrepreneurship Programs and Initiatives
Increase the Number of Women Represented in Entrepreneurship Programs
Increase Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding to Women-owned Businesses
Celebrate Successful Women Entrepreneurs
Decrease the Risk of Becoming an Entrepreneur
The Economic Case for Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs
How Entrepreneurs Access Capital and Get Funded