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The ‘fairer sex’ and entrepreneurship


Dr Shima BarakatWomen entrepreneurs face an uphill struggle compared to men; an incline that’s set to become even steeper as government cuts start to bite

UK-wide research of entrepreneurship programmes reveals that further work is required in the design and development of education for would-be entrepreneurs, especially women, who are going to be hit by coalition government cuts.

The study, carried out by Dr Shima Barakat of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Cambridge Judge Business School, shows that the impact of the programmes varies especially by gender but also among ethnicities.

Dr Barakat and her education faculty colleagues feel that greater sensitivity and awareness to students is required at the planning stages of entrepreneurship education.

She says women have excellent skills yet their potential entrepreneurial success is limited. The research indicates that the impact of UK-wide entrepreneurship programmes is different for men and women. There are similarities but women remain disadvantaged because they start at a lower point.

“Women are consistently less self-efficacious which means that their confidence in their abilities to be entrepreneurial is consistently lower. By the end of typical programmes, it remains lower. That is a serious problem because women will be less likely to be entrepreneurial; to start a business; to get out ‘there’ and do ‘something’.

“The UK doesn’t have enough programmes that will push women up to the same level as men and we are about to have further problems with the dissolution of the regional development agencies which were arguably the single source of funding for women entrepreneurs.”