Women face different challenges than male entrepreneurs. This was the finding of papers presented at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) 5th International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange at Swinburne University last week.
“The research undertaken into female entrepreneurialism in Australia, Germany, Denmark and Canada found that women in entrepreneurship face more challenges than men because of their family and home commitments,” said Patricia Buckley, Associate Professor at the AGSE.
An Australian study analysed how the digital economy is increasing opportunities for business and changing the nature of how we work, offering advantages to female entrepreneurs.
“The digital economy reduces the importance of location and a ‘standard’ day, which makes the sector more attractive to female entrepreneurs, many of who juggle home and family responsibilities” said Ms Buckley.
A study into male and female SME owners in Australia found that female SME owners consult more frequently with family and friends (informal networks) and male SME owners consult more frequently with banks, business consultants, industry associations and solicitors (formal networks).
Formal and informal networks improve the chances of survival for the businesses of both female and male SME owners but don’t improve the chances of the business achieving growth.
“Formal, and often after hours, networks are more difficult for female entrepreneurs to access due to their home commitments,” said Patricia. “However, this research demonstrates women are still getting the support they need to run a successful business from family and friends,” she said.
A German study found that female entrepreneurs faced significant misapprehension of their entrepreneurial activities by financial institutions. This caused them to be less likely to start a business than men due to limited capital to invest in their enterprises. The size of the businesses they seek to develop also inhibited their ability to get their business off the ground.
A Danish study found female and males provide different resources to entrepreneurs. If entrepreneurs required emotional support, they are more likely to receive it from females who also provide highly sought after encouragement.
While a Canadian study found that many women in the advanced technology sector believe they face gender specific career challenges. More than 60 percent ranked obtaining work-life balance among the top three challenges, second was the lack of best practice for women in leadership, and a lack of women mentors and coaches was the third highest ranked challenge.
“This research demonstrates that women throughout the western world are still juggling with the demands of work and home. They are also struggling to receive the financial support required to see their entrepreneurial ideas come to fruition and there is a lack of leadership and mentoring among women,” said Patricia Buckley.