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A new survey from 99designs, online graphic design marketplace, has revealed clear gender differences in entrepreneurship. The results suggest that overall, women are being held back in the business world for a variety of factors including methods of doing business and traditional gender role expectations.

The survey was conducted with more than 1,700 entrepreneurs in the UK, Europe, US and Australia. Here are some of the key differences between men and women in business.


Men are much more likely to start their business ventures at a younger age than women. 18% of men start their business at age 18-25 whereas only 12% of women do. Entrepreneurs who start a business after the age of 35 are more likely to be women, 43% as opposed to men, 33%.

The most obvious reason for this is because of women having children as most mothers will wait until their children have started school before going into business. It’s also difficult for many mothers to return to work after having children and so more and more are creating their own jobs by starting a business that gives them the flexibility to work when they want.


The survey found that men were twice as likely to receive $100,000 in investment as women. 12% of men had secured $100,000 in funding compared to 6% of women.

However, contrary to the majority of the evidence, UK female entrepreneurs had a high percentage of people securing $100,000 investment. 11% had secured this in comparison to 6% of men.

As the venture capital sector is male-dominated, it seems that this could be having an impact on the amount of women who can secure funding in comparison to men.

However, it may also be that generally speaking women are more risk averse and are less likely to chase higher investments than men.

Time spent on business

The survey found that men tend to work more hours a day on their business than women who are more likely to spend more time with their family.

19% of women spend over five hours a day with family in contrast to just 13% of men doing the same. 13% of men spend over 12 hours a day working compared to just 7% of women.

Though gender roles may be changing, the same patterns keep cropping up with men more likely to spend time on paid work and women more on household work and childcare.

Seeking help

Just a small amount of people will use professional mentoring. Only 8% of men do and 10% of women. British female business owners are more likely to look for a mentor than men, 14% and 11% respectively.

Developing skills

When it comes to learning new skills, men are more likely to read books whereas women are more likely to prefer the structure of a course. 18% of men prefer learning from books as opposed to 13% of women. 14% of women prefer structured courses to 9% of men.

Comfort zones

Getting out of a comfort zone tends to be more difficult for women. 20% of women said that this was their biggest challenge to getting started in business. Only 14% of men said the same.

Though this is a barrier for many women, the amount of female entrepreneurs is on the rise. Entrepreneurism is up among women, with the proportion of UK SMEs run by women going by from 14% to 20% since 2008.


Do you feel like you’re at a disadvantage in the entrepreneurial world? What other factors do you think are at play? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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