Decisions made by Governments often affect men and women differently.

… This is the third in our series of ‘On Our Radar’ articles that explore the policy areas with sensitive gender differences that we feel should be prioritised by the new Programme for Government.

Across the UK, women are half as likely as men to set up their own business.

Women make up 47% of the total workforce in Wales but only 10% of working women are self-employed.

Women only represent 31% of the total self-employed population, demonstrating a sizable gender gap in self-employment.

A recent report by the FSB estimated that the UK could be missing out on over a million new enterprises due to the untapped business potential of women.

This isn’t a situation that’s unique to the UK, let alone Wales.

This is reflected around Europe and the world, where encouraging female enterprise is seen as important for future economic growth and the creation of jobs.

But self-employment and entrepreneurship doesn’t only present potential to the economies of the world.

For individuals, being your own boss can be attractive for a number of different reasons, including financial independence, autonomy and flexibility.

So why aren’t more women choosing to become their own boss?

Women’s motivations for starting their own business are also often different to men’s, as is their experience of the process, meaning they face a number of barriers.

Women are likely to perceive their business as a social enterprise, with a focus on community and lifestyle over growth and profit. Business support that focuses on high growth can therefore be off putting for women.

Opportunity, confidence and credibility also play a part. Many women finding that they are treated differently to their male counterparts and have to work harder to ensure their business achieves.

Finally access to finance also remains an issue with women tending to possess more cautious attitudes to borrowing. This in turn has an impact on the businesses ability to grow.

Increasing the number of women entrepreneurs is still a big challenge that needs constant and comprehensive work.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that business support on offer caters to everyone, and provides equal opportunity to everyone to build a successful and sustainable business.

The support on offer should demonstrate an understanding of men and women’s different approaches to starting a business.

Together with differences in the way they work, their aims and their objectives. Success should then also be measured accordingly.

Networks, role models and mentoring schemes are also great tools to help women gain confidence, inspiration and access the necessary information to make their enterprise thrive.

Welsh Government has already recognised the importance of addressing the gender start-up gap and better understanding the reasons behind it.

We are pleased to be working with them to assess current support and ensure services are sensitive to gender differences.

We will endeavour to ensure that this work continues and progresses during the Fifth Assembly, creating a business environment in Wales where both women and men achieve and prosper.

Meanwhile, meet the first of our enterprise role models and get inspired: Entrepreneur brews up a storm.

Related.

On Our Radar: Working Women’s Journeys.

Swansea-based brewer and entrepreneur, Sarah John: Turning you passion into a business.

FSB Report – Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential.