May 21, 2024


Delighting finance buffs

Study finds 1 in 3 female entrepreneurs have experienced sexism

What more needs to be done to improve gender equality?

We asked women business owners what they think needs to change to improve gender equality in business. Here’s what they told us.

What needs to change?

% of female business owners

More people calling out gender bias or inequality as it happens


Greater exposure and education on the issue


Unconscious gender bias training throughout all businesses, alongside more equal benefits (e.g. maternity/paternity pay)


Dedicated female business and investor programmes


Greater access to support for funding, mentorship and networks


Experiences from small business owners across the UK

Female entrepreneurs and business owners have experienced gender bias and sexism across all industries and regions of the UK.

Jenny, who works in Leisure and Tourism in North West England, shared her experience: “Unlike many other types of inequality with business, reporting bias within these interactions is unmeasured and therefore unseen. Even at times when I’ve been included, my voice has not been valued compared to my male counterparts and I’ve had my ideas stolen or attributed to a man.”

Samantha Small, owner of Mother Shipton Inn pub and restaurant in Knaresborough, said: “As a woman who both heads a busy kitchen and runs the business as a whole, it still astounds me how many people will direct comments or business advice to my male partner. Everything from oven repairs to new suppliers. It’s a bug bear, but unfortunately, something that I’ve had to learn to deal with.”

Supporting women in business

When it comes to what would help support women with running their business, we discovered:

  • 41 per cent said the chance to network with other female business owners
  • 38 per cent said a one-to-one mentorship from a business expert
  • a further third want to hear more tips and advice from leaders in their industry

It comes as a quarter of female entrepreneurs struggle with confidence in business.

Sarina Stokes, Head of Operations at BFG Print Ltd, shared her challenges: “I have not felt confident giving myself the title of business owner as I know most people associate business ownership as a male-dominated area. I call myself head of operations as I know many people do not think a female could own a company.”

Exclusive business mentorship with Karren Brady CBE

As part of the Empowering Women in Business initiative, we’re offering one female entrepreneur the chance to win an exclusive business mentorship with Karren Brady CBE.

Baroness Karren Brady CBE, ambassador for Simply Business, added: “We need to harness the talents, ambitions and drive of women, at any business, big or small. I’m proud to partner with Simply Business to shine a light on sexism and bias in business – it’s an ongoing challenge we need to resolve.

“Supporting and mentoring one female entrepreneur, and giving them the skills and tools they need to flourish, is a positive step forward in this journey.”

Entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners can also sign up to our free webinar on 17 March.

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, said: “International Women’s Day is hugely important in providing recognition to women all around the world. So we’re delighted to partner with Baroness Karren Brady – a formidable businesswoman who will share her successes and advice to help inspire female entrepreneurs up and down the country.

“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy – and behind each of these businesses are passionate individuals with a big dream. At Simply Business, we’re proud to be able to offer one female business owner the opportunity to receive an exclusive, one-on-one mentoring session with Karren. We’re excited to see the positive impact Karren will have on supporting an entrepreneur in the next phase of their business journey.”