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Aussie women the world’s most entrepreneurial: Report

Thursday, 23 February 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Australian women are the most entrepreneurial in the world, new research reveals, but an expert says businesswomen are still underrepresented in growth industries such as finance and IT.


The research was compiled by the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship, based at Queensland University of Technology, in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.


More than 50 countries took part in the research, which is based on a survey of 2,000 individuals in each country.


Out of the 23 developed countries surveyed, the United States emerged as the most entrepreneurial, but ACE associate professor Paul Steffens says Australia wasn’t far behind.


“With 10.5% of the adult population involved in setting up a new business or owning a newly-founded business, Australia ranks second only to the United States [at 12%],” Steffens says.


“This is very encouraging and indicates that Australia has been weathering the global financial crisis well.”


“Most new businesses started to take advantage of a perceived lucrative business opportunity, with only about a fifth started out of a lack of alternative options for work.”


“This is significant because it points to a culture of genuine innovation.”


Steffens says while the percentage of Australian entrepreneurs paints a positive picture, an even more impressive figure is the percentage of female entrepreneurs in Australia.


“With 7.8% of adult women involved in setting up a new business or owning newly-founded businesses, Australia ranks number one among developed economies,” he says


“What’s interesting too is that Australia is the only developed economy where men and women are participating virtually equally in this endeavour.”


“Australian women put their stronger than average success in new business ventures down to their skills levels and the high media attention for entrepreneurship in Australia.”


According to the research, approximately 40% of Australia’s female population identify opportunities for new ventures and believe they have the necessary skills to start a business.


However, only 24% of Australian female entrepreneurs indicate they want to grow their business larger than five employers within the next five years, compared to 42% of male entrepreneurs.


The research reveals female entrepreneurs are also less ambitious in terms of internationalisation of their business.


Only 6% aim to have a substantial share of customers from international trade, compared with 13.7% of their male counterparts.


In addition, Steffens says Australian women are still underrepresented in the workforce in growth-oriented industries such as mining, manufacturing, finance and information technology.


“There is a lot of activity in the services sector, and that goes for both men and women, but in terms of what you might consider high-growth sectors, it’s male-dominated,” Steffens says.


“Women might not necessarily be attracted to rural mining opportunities but there are plenty of information technology and online retail-type opportunities that might serve the same objective.”