Female entrepreneurship is important to the European Union (EU) for both gender equality and economic growth. Yet, while women are catching up on labour markets, the gender gap in entrepreneurship is still wide. In 2012, women made up only 31% of self-employed European citizens, and only 10% of working women are self-employed.
Entrepreneurship appears to be a rather masculine occupation, with women believed to be more risk-averse. Moreover, women are seen to be motivated more often by necessity than by opportunity. When women do start businesses, they often do so in less innovative sectors. Monitoring of female entrepreneurship is challenging given a lack of data. However, whilst their companies perform equally, it is often believed that sales in women’s companies grow less than in those of their male counterparts.
In terms of policy recommendations, stakeholders underline the importance of better data on which to base policies, as well as the reinforcement of support structures for female entrepreneurs such as the provision of information and training, business networks, business support services, and facilitating access to both human and financial capital for women. EU initiatives, such as dedicated networks for women, are supplemented by stakeholders’ own initiatives, while the European Parliament (EP) has recognised the positive contribution of female entrepreneurs to Europe’s economy.