Female entrepreneurship and the need for tech skills

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

By Sheila Flavell, above, COO, FDM Group

The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship revealed that female entrepreneurs founded over 150,000 businesses last year, representing a significant milestone for women in the business-sphere. This upsurge is a testament to women taking charge of their careers and demonstrating their ingenuity and determination despite traditional underrepresentation. However, it also underscores the importance of tech skills in modern-day entrepreneurship.

In today’s digital age, tech skills are essential for any entrepreneur looking to succeed. One of the key factors contributing to the success of female entrepreneurs is their willingness to embrace technology. From building a website to leveraging social media for marketing purposes, tech skills are critical to staying competitive in the marketplace.

The progress of female entrepreneurship 

The growth of female entrepreneurship is a welcome development but has not come without its challenges – and there is still far more to come. Despite progress in recent years, women still face significant obstacles in the business world, including discrimination, and a lack of support and mentorship. Data from the Gender Index 2022 revealed that just under 17 per cent of all active companies were led by women, and they managed to attract less than 12 per cent of the £1.3 million investments made in UK firms.

With appropriate support, the Rose Review estimates that female-led businesses could add £250 billion value to the UK economy, highlighting how they could also play a critical role in job creation and innovation.

Successes of female-led SMEs and larger businesses 

Women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a vital part of the UK economy. According to data released from the House of Commons last year, SMEs accounted for over 99 per cent of all UK businesses, and female-led SMEs made up around 20 per cent of this total. Such SMEs provide employment for approximately 16.4 million, which account for 61 per cent of the total, with a turnover estimated at £2.1 trillion.

Female leadership is also essential in larger, more established corporations. Women still remain underrepresented in leadership positions in UK companies.

According to research conducted by Realindex, spanning over a decade in 30 different countries, it was revealed that companies with women in senior management teams have about 30 per cent higher profit margins than those with lower gender diversity. This suggests that diversity in leadership can result in better decision-making and ultimately lead to better business outcomes.

However, despite the benefits of having more women in leadership roles, progress has been slow, and further inclusion must be worked upon. In 2022, only 8 per cent of CEOs were women among FTSE companies, with no women of colour represented among them.

The importance of tech skills 

It’s essential to tackle the gender disparity in the tech sector to ensure the UK’s future economic prosperity, as the sector was valued at $1 trillion in 2022, and aims to become an International Technology Superpower by 2030.

Women currently only hold 26.7 per cent of tech-related jobs, and account for 10.9 per cent of those holding CEO or senior leadership roles. This, combined with the skills shortage in the industry, present a significant barrier to overcome.

The importance of tech skills cannot be overstated in the current business landscape. With digital transformation rapidly changing the way businesses operate, having tech skills is becoming increasingly important for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike.

For female entrepreneurs, tech skills are particularly important because they offer a way to level the playing field. The underrepresentation of women in STEM has widened the gender gap in tech. However, greater access to digital skills through online courses and coding bootcamps have helped women success in the tech industry.

The importance of tech skills is also evident in the types of businesses that women are starting. Many of the most successful female-led businesses are start-ups that leverage innovative technology to disrupt industries and solve complex problems. From healthcare to finance, women are using tech skills to create businesses that have the potential to innovate and optimise multiple aspects of our everyday lives.

According to data collated from an online tracker, 494 tech companies have laid off 138, 820 job roles so far this year. While the majority of these lay-offs stem from high-profile companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, laid-off technology workers are beginning to use emerging technologies to launch their own ventures and innovate their own source of income.

By embracing technology and investing in their own tech education, female entrepreneurs can position themselves for further success in today’s new digital age.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024