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Women Entrepreneurs in the OECD: Key Evidence and Policy Challenges

Listed author(s):
  • Mario Piacentini


Important gender gaps in entrepreneurship exist. Men are three times more likely than women to own a business with employees. Women rarely own large businesses and their average earnings from selfemployment are up to 60% lower than for men. Cultural norms, stereotypes and lack of role models make women less interested in an entrepreneurial career and less confident in their capacities as entrepreneurs. Other obstacles such as time shortages and the composition of their professional networks lead women to start relatively small businesses, with low levels of initial capital and bank financing. These obstacles establish a competitive disadvantage for companies owned by women, which translates in levels of labour productivity that are 5 to 30% lower than those of companies owned by men. This paper also presents examples of policy initiatives in the domains of credit, training and awareness raising that can unlock the double dividend of women’s entrepreneurship: higher empowerment of women and more productive businesses. Better data and more analysis are an essential precondition for a more effective implementation of these policies. En matière d’entreprenariat, des écarts importants entre les sexes existent. Les hommes sont trois fois plus susceptibles que les femmes de posséder une entreprise avec des employés. Les femmes possèdent rarement de grandes entreprises et leurs gains moyens en tant que travailleurs indépendants sont jusqu'à 60% inférieurs à ceux des hommes. Les normes culturelles, les stéréotypes et le manque de modèles d’entrepreneurs féminins rendent les femmes moins intéressées par une carrière entrepreneuriale et moins confiantes dans leurs capacités d'entrepreneurs. D'autres obstacles comme le manque de temps et la composition de leurs réseaux professionnels conduisent les femmes à démarrer des entreprises relativement petites, avec de faibles niveaux de capital initial et de financements bancaires. Ces obstacles gênèrent un désavantage concurrentiel pour les entreprises appartenant à des femmes, qui se traduit par des niveaux de productivité de 5 à 30% inférieurs à ceux des entreprises appartenant à des hommes. Ce document présente également des exemples d'initiatives politiques dans les domaines du crédit, de la formation et de la sensibilisation qui peuvent débloquer le ‘double dividende’ de l'entreprenariat des femmes: une plus grande émancipation économique de la femme et des entreprises plus productives. Des meilleures données et plus d’analyses sont des conditions essentielles pour une mise en oeuvre plus efficace de ces politiques.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 147.

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Date of creation: 23 Jul 2013
Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:147-en
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