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08 March 2022

Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Chancellor visit King's to meet women entrepreneurs

Professor Ute Stephan shared her findings on the resilience of women entrepreneurs during COVID

Professor Ute Stephan speaks at the Entrepreneurship Institute event. Also pictured are Sir Keir Starmer MP, Entrepreneurship Institute Director Julie Devonshire and two female entrepreneurs

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022 Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves MP visited the Entrepreneurship Institute (EI) at King’s College London to discuss how women can be better supported to thrive as entrepreneurs and the role universities can play in making this happen.

During a roundtable event hosted by the Women Entrepreneurs Network at the EI, attendees discussed the landscape for women in entrepreneurship and the barriers that still exist; how the EI is achieving its mission of closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship and how policy can support women to start new businesses and increase job creation for the UK economy.

Ute Stephan, Professor of Entrepreneurship at King’s Business School set out how the barriers women entrepreneurs face are rooted in the fact that we as a society still view entrepreneurship as a prototypical male career: “this means that women are not given the same ‘benefit of the doubt’, face persistent hurdles in accessing finance, and tend to view themselves initially as less confident entrepreneurs.”

Professor Stephan points out that women don’t appear to reap the same benefits from entrepreneurship as men do; her research shows that they tend to pay themselves less and are more stressed. “Yet in the pandemic, women-led businesses also showed important long-term thinking and leadership. Despite being harder hit than comparable male-led businesses they were less likely to lay off staff and more likely to help out in their community by volunteering their time, money and their businesses’ services.”

Professor Stephan explained that there are many opportunities available to support women’s entrepreneurship, address implicit biases and tackle under-representation, including the under-representation of female investors. One example is to encourage social entrepreneurship, which is viewed as less stereotypically male.

Social entrepreneurship allows women to circumvent some of the ‘think entrepreneurship, think male’ disadvantages, and seems to act as a pathway for women into entrepreneurship. Many women social entrepreneurs go on to create commercial businesses, as well as further social enterprises. All in all, encouraging women entrepreneurship, both start-up and scale-up, can help build a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Professor Ute Stephan

In this story

Ute  Stephan

Professor of Entrepreneurship