More than half of female entrepreneurs in London have been branded with stereotypical gender labels when running their business, research from NatWest suggests.
Respondents in the capital were the most likely of any region to have been called self-assured, overbearing, feisty, vocal, career oriented, a ‘career woman’, driven and ambitious in a professional environment. Women in the South are more likely than those in any other region to be referred to as a ‘working mum’ or ‘ruthless’. The study suggested that almost half (48%) of female entrepreneurs in the South of England have been labelled with stereotypical gender terms when setting up their own business.
Author, freelance writer and blogger Sarah Turner, who wrote the Sunday Times number one bestseller The Unmumsy Mum and earlier this year published The Unmumsy Mum Diary, said: “As a mum-of-two who works full-time I was sadly not surprised that almost half of the women surveyed had been branded with gender stereotypes because this is something I have experienced. Comments I have had about the work/motherhood juggle range from, “Crikey, who looks after your kids then?” to, “Wow, you’re brave trying to make it work as a ‘mum boss”.
“Interestingly, my husband has never encountered such comments, nor has he ever been referred to as a ‘dad boss’.”
The research also explored how these comments affected female entrepreneurs across the UK. Encouragingly, over a third (35%) of those questioned ignored any negative comments or didn’t care about them.
However, 26% of respondents in the South said they were made more self-conscious as a result of their experience and 22% were upset or angry.
Sarah, who lives in Devon with her husband and their two sons, said: “There is a deep-rooted inequality of attitudes that needs to change, and I am heartened that many of the women who face a challenging attitude are fiercely determined not to let it hold them back.”
Half of female entrepreneurs in the North of England have never been branded with stereotypical gender labels when running their business. Women here were also the least likely to have experienced someone commenting on or alluding to their work attire in a negative way in a professional environment.
More than half (53%) of female entrepreneurs in Wales have been subject to stereotypical gender labels, rising to 55% for entrepreneurs past the start-up stage. But Welsh respondents were the most determined and motivated in the face of adversity of any region in Britain.
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise for Business Banking at NatWest, said: “While it is clear that a high percentage of women are still experiencing gender specific challenges it is fantastic to see more female entrepreneurs rising above any negative stereotyping and being more determined than ever to succeed regardless. Therefore it is vital to the UK economy that we do all we can to encourage more women to be confident in their skills, champion their strength and to start new businesses.”
To provide this support, NatWest has more than 400 Women in Business specialists throughout the UK. These specialists are accredited by the Chartered Banker in conjunction with Everywoman, an organisation that provides resources and services to support women who are starting or growing their businesses.