While women are less involved in entrepreneurship than their male counterparts, research shows that when women engage in entrepreneurship they operate different types of businesses in comparison to men, namely the services sector (i.e., retail, tourism, education, and health care). Yet, women are less likely than male entrepreneurs to create jobs for others, export or be innovative and introduce new products and services.

Highlighting this Issue, a recent report published by the OECD – Entrepreneurship Policies through a Gender Lens – examines how to strengthen the scope and effectiveness of entrepreneurship policies for women. The report examines both dedicated measures for women and ensuring that mainstream policies for all entrepreneurs are appropriate for women.

Associate Professor Naomi Birdthistle from the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation at Griffith University, co-contributed to one of the 27 policy insight notes on the role of public policy in facilitating entrepreneurship and how policies can be strengthened. Overall, the report highlights many long‑standing issues related to the scope and effectiveness of women’s entrepreneurship policies – many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic – and point the way to more effective policy. Issues addressed include fostering a gender‑sensitive entrepreneurship culture, building entrepreneurship skills for women, improving women’s access to financial capital, supporting networks for women entrepreneurs, and creating supportive regulatory environments. Issues in the design and delivery of policy support are also addressed.

From an Australian perspective, the OECD report highlights that Australia has a poor pipeline to entrepreneurship for women due to the gender imbalance that exists when it comes to the rate of women start-ups. This finding is also echoed in many of the countries portrayed in the report. The report observes that Australian women suffer from a lack of connectedness to the start-up ecosystem. However, the Australian government has recognised the challenges women face in gaining access to capital, networks and resources and they have established an $18 million fund. The Australian chapter recommends gender-inclusive supports that build the talent pipeline; women entrepreneurs require targeted supports and access to resources.

Details of the report can be found here: https://bit.ly/3fyYUIu


Associate Professor Naomi Birdthistle