Gender Empowerment

Women at work: Facts & Stats

We often talk about inequalities between men and women. Let's have a look at facts & stats to understand better the situation.

Sources for information on female entrepreneurship are compiled by:

1. Central government either through commissioned reports or through annual official figures

2. Central government working through dedicated business units such as the Small Business Unit in the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry)

3. Financial sector - business and investment banking

4. Campaign-led research

5. Local and regional economies, for example Chambers of Commerce.


Total resident population as of 2105 - 65,110,000

Male - 32,074,400

Female - 33,035,600

Total employment rate (aged 16-64) as of 2015 - 33,035,600 (63.3% of resident population)

Male - 20,544,700 (64.1 % of 16-64 age group)

Female - 20,696,300 (62.6 % of 16-64 age group)

For the latest time period, March to May 2016, the employment rate for people reached a record high of 74.4%.


Total business counts - 2,449,415. However, and according to House of Commons Briefing Paper, this figure by December 2015 is 5.4 million businesses in the UK. I am not sure why there is this discrepancy between the data as the first is from the Office of National Statistics, and the House of Commons Briefing Paper takes its data from the same sources as the ONS?

Micro (0-9 employees) - 2,173,355 (88.7% of total business counts)

Small (10-49) - 227,770 (9.3% of total business counts)

Medium (50-249) - 227,770 (1.6% of total business counts)

Large (250 plus) - 9,350 (0.4% of total business counts)


Gross weekly pay

Total full time workers - £527. 70

Male full time workers - £567.20

Female full time workers - £471.20

Hourly pay

Total full time workers - £13.29

Male full time workers - £13.84

Female full time workers - £12.54


In 2014, 8.5% of working age adults expected to start a business within the next 3 years which is above the longer term trend for the UK.

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Around 1 in 5 (18%) of UK early-stage entrepreneurs had high job expectations in 2014; which was higher than the rates for its European peers but lower than in the US at 27%.


Based on an RBS Report in 2013 there are now c. 1.5 million women who are self-employed, representing an increase of c. 300,000 since before the economic downturn in 2008.

According to House of Commons briefing paper on business statistics published in December 2015 the figures for 2014 show that 20% of SMEs in the UK were majority led by women. This is two percentage points higher than in 2012 and equates to around 1.1 million SMEs.

Women now account for under a third of those in self-employment, but over half the increase in self-employment since the recession started in 2008.

Between 2008 and 2011 women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the new self-employed.

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20% of SMEs are majority female-led. Majority led meaning where women make up more than 50% of the partners or directors in day-to-day control of the business, or where the sole proprietor is a woman. 

In October 2015 it was announced that 26% of FTSE100 board members were female.

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It is estimated that in the UK majority women-led SME businesses contribute about £75 billion to Gross Value Added (16% of the UK SME approximate GVA total).

Majority female owned businesses are more likely to use an accountant than majority male-owned businesses and less likely to use no external advice than majority male-owned businesses.


Businesses at least partially led by women accounted for 38% of all SMEs in 2014, around 2.0 million SMEs.

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Female entrepreneurs are more likely to bring a service unfamiliar to the market, to have fewer competitors, and more likely to be using technology in their products or services than their male counterparts. In addition they are more likely than male businesses to be offering a product or service to the market that has been developed in the last year.

The total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rate was close to 6% between 2003 and 2010, but then rose and for up to 2014 has fluctuated between c. 8% and 10%.

The most notable increase has been amongst the over 50 age group.

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By gender, the TEA rate in the UK was 4.7% among women and 9.5% among men. In Germany, the female TEA rate is 3.3%, and in the US it is 9.2%.

Women were nearly five times more likely to mention family reasons for becoming self-employed than men.

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A fifth of females chose to work as self-employed to help combine “family commitments / wanted to work at home” and employment in a flexible manner. Conversely, men were almost twice as likely to say that one of the reasons they became self-employed was to “make more money” than women.

On average approximately 30% of self-employed women and 8% of men work at home.

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There has been 15% increase in women working in STEM from 2014 to 2015 from 689,207 to 793,437, with 14% of women making up the total workforce in STEM. Over this period the figures break down as: 104,000 more women working in STEM; 47,000 more women working as ICT professionals; 12,000 more women working as professional engineers, 6,000 more women working as science and engineering technicians, and 15,000 more women working as STEM managers.

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About the author

Tara Howard

Tara has never been shy of a challenge – from trekking to Everest base camp to twice finishing in the London to Brighton Cycle Ride, or to qualify as a commercial pilot and flight instructor at the age of 22.
She now spearheads her greatest challenge, the Venus Awards.

With a background in running a hotel business in Bournemouth, she has turned her abundant energy and business expertise to ensuring that the Venus Awards becomes the UK's premier community for recognising and rewarding working women in the UK.

She is fast becoming a figurehead and influencer for women in business, combining all of this with being a mother of four children.

Check out Tara's vlog - her War on Ageing

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