Women could create millions of jobs if the companies they founded grew at the same pace as men’s.
Tapping into this huge economic resource was the subject of a conference in Berlin, where attendees discussed what barriers women face around the world and what could be done to overcome them.
If women’s businesses flourished at the same rate as men’s, they would spark 15 million jobs in the United States, 74 million jobs in China, and 1.9 million jobs in France, according to the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, which is research sponsored by Dell that crunches data from groups such as the World Bank and the United Nations.
“Women represent the largest emerging market in the world,” Elizabeth Gore, the entrepreneur-in-residence at computer company Dell told the 200 people gathered in Berlin in June for the sixth annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) summit.
Although women today create twice as many businesses as men in the world, they face more impediments to grow them, the Scorecard points out. In 70 percent of the 31 countries surveyed by the Scorecard, women are only half as likely as men to grow their businesses and create jobs.
“I usually summarise the problems of women entrepreneurs using three Cs,” said Cherie Blair, president of a foundation for women that bears her name and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“Confidence – too often, they are told that entrepreneurship is not for them. Building Capacities – education and training programs are key – and access to Capital. The Lord knows how difficult it is for any entrepreneur to get funding but for women, it’s even harder,” she said.
After reviewing the main problems which undermine women entrepreneurship, Ruta Aidis, project director of the Scorecard, also presented a series of solution-oriented practical recommendations aimed at improving the situation worldwide.
She recommended that governments adopt public procurement measures that favour businesses run by women such as those that exist in the US or South Africa. Quotas for women on company boards, like those that exist in France, also proved to be efficient to boost parity in the workplace.
As far as private companies are concerned, they should diversify their management and include more businesses run by women in their supply chain.
Women entrepreneurs could serve as mentors and role models in order to help stereotypes change. “Every girl should have a picture of what a woman entrepreneur is: someone who is in control of her life and plays an active role on the social and economic scene,” said Ruta Aidis.
Finally, the media should play a role in fostering more positive portrayals of women. A study by the Global Media Monitoring Project found that media coverage seldom features women as subjects and when they do, almost half the content reinforces negative stereotypes.