One in three female entrepreneurs still face gender bias

Despite the global growth of women-led businesses, funding continues to be a significant challenge. Having gathered multiple data and research, Instant Offices revealed 35% of female business founders still face gender bias when raising their business capital. Female entrepreneurs also receive an average of 5% less funding than their male counterparts.

Although there has been encouraging growth from a mere 17% to 32.37% over the past four years, men are still twice as likely to start their own businesses, with women comprising just less than one-third of UK business founders.

It’s clear that much more can be done to support women-owned businesses and women in senior positions.

Interestingly studies have shown female business owners are most likely to run their business as a one-woman company. While 37.70% of women entrepreneurs work alone, 27.14% have 2-3 employees and just 23.44% employ teams of 4 or more.

The Sectors that Women Entrepreneurs are Owning

The UK business categories with the highest percentage of female vs male entrepreneurs include hair and beauty, wellness, and consumables.

  • Hair & Beauty: 76% female vs 24% male
  • Gifts & Occasions: 67% female vs 32% male
  • Consumables: 64% female vs 36% male
  • Wellness: 63% female vs 37% male
  • Pet Care: 61% female vs 38% male

In contrast, women are most underrepresented as business owners in the following industries:

  • Electronics & appliances: 3% female vs 97% male
  • Construction services: 5% female vs 95% male
  • Outdoor & garden services: 5% female vs 95% male

Biggest Barriers Facing Women in Business

The Funding Gap
  • Women are 81% less likely to be confident that they can access start-up funds
  • Women estimate that they need 40% less funding to get started
  • Women start out with an average of 53% less capital
The Scaling Gap
  • 46% of female entrepreneurs do not seek scale loans as they expect issues with the process
  • 40% of female entrepreneurs do not seek scale loans as they expect to be turned down
  • Only around 10% of female-led businesses in the UK are successfully scaling

Commenting on the research, Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at The Instant Group said: “The modern workplace has seen a major shift towards greater flexibility, with remote and agile working becoming the way of the future, especially post-pandemic. An increasing number of companies are also looking to initiatives that include men to help move the dial, such as shared parental leave. This allows more women to balance their work and family responsibilities more effectively.

"As workplaces start reopening in the wake of a disruptive lockdown period, the business world is faced with many exciting opportunities to change and grow for the better. There are many more ways to pave the path to greater gender parity among entrepreneurs, inspiring women in business to thrive.”

Supporting Female Entrepreneurship in 2021

Some useful ways to contribute closing the gap include:
  • Increase funding directed at female entrepreneurs
  • Provide more family-friendly workspaces and better parental leave for both parents
  • Improve access to professional networks and mentors for women
  • Forge pathways for women to enter and thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries

To view further insight into the self-starter gender gap, find out more here.

Startup Details

Startup Details


Instant Offices

Founded in 1999, The Instant Group is a workspace innovation company that rethinks workspace on behalf of its clients injecting flexibility, reducing cost and driving enterprise performance. Instant places more than 11,000 companies a year in flexible workspace such as serviced, managed or co-working offices including Amazon, Barclays, Prudential, Sky, Network Rail, Capita, Serco, Teleperformance and Worldpay, making it the market leader in flexible workspace.

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    London, UK
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