Friday, 30 November 2012

US entrepreneurship closes gender gap, GEM report shows

Gaping Void
The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor US Report, published yesterday, gives grounds for optimism. Americans are starting businesses in record numbers and doing so out of "optimism not desperation," according to the report's lead author, Donna J Kelley, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College.

The report, based on the largest and most globally-focused entrepreneurship research of its kind, extrapolates data and attitudes from interviews with 5,800 adults in the US aged between 18 and 99.

The US leads the world in the percentage of its population who go it alone. Moreover, of the 12.3 per cent of US adults who are engaged in entrepreneurial activity, eight in ten are women: the narrowest gender gap ever reported and significantly smaller than the global average of six women to every ten men.

You are twice as likely if you are black to be an entrepreneur than if you are white, but overall whites still comprise 68 per cent of US entrepreneurs, says the report.

While half of US entrepreneurs (in common with global figures) are aged 25-44, ten per cent of baby boomers aged 55-64 intend to start a business, the report finds, and 4.5 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

Female entrepreneurs are twice as likely to be engaged in consumer-facing businesses than business services enterprises while for men the split is about 50:50. Women start businesses at every stage of their careers, missing out on what the report terms "a youth dividend" experienced by men, who at the early stage of their careers tend to exhibit higher levels of confidence, appetite for risk, and perceptions about opportunity.
The report identifies the need to "build affiliations with entrepreneurs by promoting role models, mentors and networking for women and other under-participating groups." This report shows that more women than ever in the US are starting ventures - a vindication of the excellent work done by organisations such as Astia.

It may also serve as a wake-up call to other parts of the globe where levels of female entrepreneurship continue to lag behind those of men.

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