Measuring Women’s Entrepreneurship

The Swedish government has identified women’s entrepreneurship as an important factor for economic growth. A government programme allocated funds for activities to promote entrepreneurship among women, Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship. The objective of the activities was to increase the number of women who choose self-employment or business ownership as their form of gainful employment. This study, Measuring Women’s Entrepreneurship, focuses on the analysis and description of the development of female entrepreneurship in Sweden as measured by current statistics. The purpose is to understand the activities in relation to the policy objectives.

There are two common measurements of female entrepreneurship that have been used for many years, and the method of measurement is well established. Women entrepreneurs are to some extent underreported in these measures. First, contributing family workers are generally not counted as self-employed, and it is more common for women to be contribu­ting family workers in a firm owned by a man than vice versa. Second, women also combine paid employment with managing their own firm to a larger extent than men, which also contributes to underreporting of female entrepreneurship.

Every year, the share of women entrepreneurs who end their tenure as firm owners or firm managers is larger than for their male counterparts. Women also start businesses at a lower rate than men. The share of firms who change general managers is larger among firms managed by women, and in more than half of the cases, the new general manager is a man. However, the difference in entry and exit rates has diminished slightly and consequently the share of women among entrepreneurs has risen in the last decade. A projection of current transition rates predicts that this share will increase modestly over the next few years.

The objectives of the programme Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship were to increase the interest in business ownership and management among women and to develop female-run businesses. The results in this study indicate that the reasons why women dispropor­tionally abandon business management and ownership should be investigated further, in part because this is a potential area for future policy intervention.

Measuring Women’s Entrepreneurship

Serial number: PM 2015:16

Reference number: 2013/001

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