Gender Entrepreneur Gap: Larger Businesses less likely to have a female founder, find researchers

Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day, tech company UENI has published a report on over 22,000 British businesses, as part of its initiative to explore the gender gap facing female business founders – and it seems that there is much work to be done.

While the gender split in UK business continues to close, (from 17% just four years ago, female founders now make up 32.37% of business owners), it seems larger organisations still don’t have women at the helm.

A sample of 5106 business owners revealed that women run only 23.44% of companies with 4 or more employees, moreover while women bosses are on the increase, they continue to be more prevalent in ‘traditionally female’ sectors like hair and beauty, with men making up over 90% of all construction and building related businesses.

UENI found that female entrepreneurs account for 76.08% of the Hair & Beauty sector, and own the majority of Gift & Occasions and Wellness related businesses.

Christine Telyan, UENI’s co-founder, says:

“There is a long way to go.” 

“Given my own experience entering the STEM industry, I know there is room for more of us. We need to make it clearer to women that they have the flexibility and potential to create all types of great businesses”.

The research also revealed that Greater London and the capital are becoming less attractive locations for women starting up. Instead, Scotland, northern cities and areas in the Midlands are becoming go-to areas for women launching new businesses.  Just 32.88% of the small business owners surveyed in London were women, trailing behind towns like Derby and Doncaster, where figures reached 40% and above.

Christine Telyan conitnues:

“Many women are put off the idea of starting up in a city where the costs of housing and childcare are constantly rising and can curb your growth”, Telyan, a New Yorker who started up in London after leaving a career in oil trading, adds. “There are more choices out there than ever before, it’s all about adapting to new environments and ways of reaching your customers.”

Scotland was found to be the best UK nation for female entrepreneurship, having the overall highest level of women running businesses. Conversely, Northern Ireland has the lowest number of female founders, with an average of just 27.49% of its businesses being run by women.  Northern cities are also good for female founders, with places like Hull, Sheffield and Manchester offering some of the smallest gender gaps in the country. This signals a continuing upward growth from 2018.

So why is it that women seem to be underrepresented at the top, and also in STEM sectors?

The report authors believe the numbers could point to a combination of difficulty raising funds, the biases female entrepreneurs face and lower survival rates for their businesses pushing women into more traditional sectors.  Whatever the reason, the UK must do better.

To see the full report, please visit: