Female founders still missing

Nothing new: women rarely start a business compared to men. Nonetheless, the issue is topical again because of a newly published study this week.

Written by Jens Kuegler

The web portal Statista.de regularly feeds journalists and bloggers with data, and so it did earlier this week. The figures come from a recently published report by the OECD. Among the 18 to 64 year olds in Germany only 31 percent of women felt principally capable of being their own boss. Among the men, however, 45 percent believed they had the necessary skills and abilities. By the way, the results for other countries were similar. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t tell us how the genders estimate the quality of each other’s skills and whether these estimations meet reality or not.

Clicking on Statista.de, you will find further reports under the same keyword. I just want to briefly pick out two of them. One of these sounds at least somewhat more balanced, albeit still tending to male dominance. In 2014, the share of women among all founders was 43 per cent. “Founders” were defined as people who had started a business within 12 months prior to the survey.

Statistics number three leaves the gender imbalance much stronger. Here, the foundations of the years 2008-2010 were separated by industries and gender. As anyone may have expected, the traditional “male domains” and “women’s jobs” unabatedly prevailed. Almost 43 percent of all female start-ups were within the “personal services” (literally: serving people) and less than three percent in construction or manufacturing. Only around 20 percent of all men started their businesses in the personal services, but 40 percent in economic or trade services (women: 32%). Only in retail, both sexes were at quite the same level with 19 respectively 17 percent.

But back to the OECD figures from this week. There is not only a general shortage of skilled but obviously still a businesswomen shortage, too. However, there are many good reasons for women to establish their own plants, shops or trades. They are still hugely disadvantaged in salary and career opportunities and should shake off that unfortunate employee situation. In Germany, people with an immigrant background face the same disadvantage, but act differently: While women are reluctant in their majority and don’t feel brave enough, migrants have always outperformed twice the indigenous citizens’ founder’s rate in the recent years (which, incidentally, refutes the notion that the supposed strangers “take away our” jobs). Haven’t we discussed too many times about the reasons for the lack of female founders? Maybe not. But I just wonder how much longer we will.

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