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Women in business

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The phrase women in business refers to female businesspeople who hold positions, particularly leadership in the fields of commerce, business, and entrepreneurship. It advocates for their increased participation in business.

Increased participation of women in business can be important for variation in business development, ideas, and business products.[1] Participation also encourages the development of social networks and supports that have positive repercussions for women and for their social environment.[2]

The status of women in business varies significantly around the world. Sometimes a lack of adequate business capital, female education, and training programs in the use of technology can mean women are more constrained by their social and political environment than men.[3]

The number of female entrepreneurs is increasing around in the country, and the Government generally encouraging this[where?]. However, a legacy of historical exclusion and discrimination continues to shape the experiences of women in business today.[4][5] Women are still underrepresented in many industries and face persistent barriers to advancement and equal pay for equal work.[6][7] In PNG nowadays, for example, unequal pay (paying women less when they're doing the same work) is illegal. However, reports indicate that 80% of the companies pay the middle-ranked woman less than the middle-ranked man (a phenomenon known as the "median pay gap").[8]



The earliest known well-documented businesswoman is Ancient Sumerian businesswoman Ama-e whom was involved in various trades and real estate investments.[9]

Another one of the earliest-known well-documented businesswoman is an Ancient Assyrian businesswoman of the city of Assur named Ahaha. She is known for pursuing the resolution an issue of financial fraud committed against her.[10]

Women in corporate leadership


As of February 2023, in the US, women hold only 29.2% of senior-level positions in S&P 500 companies,[11] (of which 8.2% are CEO positions).[12] There are approximately 2 women per board; the average S&P 500 board consists of 11 members. This is despite women being 46.8% of the workforce, and controlling more than 50% of personal wealth in the US along with approximately 75% of household spending.[13]

As of 2014, only 1% of executive officers and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women. In 2015, women held 17.9% of the board seats in Fortune 1000 companies, evidence of disproportionate gender representation on corporate boards of directors.[14] While the number of women on Fortune 500 corporate boards continues to rise, the average rate of increase is only one-half of one percent per year.[15] One in nine corporations on the Fortune 500 list still do not include any women on their board.[16][17]

In 2014, Peterson Institute for International Economics surveyed nearly 22,000 companies across the world. They found almost 60% had no female board members. Just over 50% had no female C-suite executives, and fewer than 5% had a female CEO. The results varied across countries: Norway, Latvia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria had at least 20% female representation at senior executive and board level. Japan, however, had only 2% female representation at board level and 2.5% at senior executive level.

The report on their survey, published in 2016, found having more women in overall executive positions correlated to greater profitability at organizations: "Going from having no women in corporate leadership (the CEO, the board, and other C-suite positions) to a 30% female share is associated with a one-percentage-point increase in net margin — which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm."[18]

50/50 Women on Boards, established in 2010 to advocate for an increase of female positions at board level and greater board level gender equality, states that as of December 2022 women held only 28.4% of the Russell 3000 Index company board seats, with women of color holding only 7% of seats.[19] The 28.4% figure represents a 1.7 percentage-point increase from December 2021.[20]

Catalyst, a US-based non-profit research organization, reported that having a higher percentage of female board directors was positively associated with companies' scores on four of six Corporate Social Performance dimensions: environment, community, customers, and supply chain.[21] Catalyst also found a positive correlation between companies' board diversity and philanthropic giving.

Given the projected talent deficit that will follow the retirement of millions of so-called 'Baby Boomer' managers and executives over the next 20 years,[22] female leaders may be seen by an increasing number of employers as an untapped source of talent, experience and senior-management leadership.[22] However, a 2018 study showed female CEOs are 45% more likely to be fired than their male counterparts, even if they are doing a good job.[23]

A 2015 study of 400 female C-suite executives by Ernst & Young and ESPN found that there was a positive correlation between athletics and corporate success. Over 52% of C-suite executives played competitive sports, compared to 39% of women at lower management levels.[24][25] of the executives included on Fortune's 2017 list of Most Powerful Women, 65% played competitive sports in high school, college, or both.[26]

Women as entrepreneurs

Share of firms with female top managers by region

In the 59 economies included in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research project,[27] female entrepreneurship ranges from just over 1.5% to 45.4% of the adult female population. Although entrepreneurial activity among women is highest in emerging economies (45.5%), the proportion of all female entrepreneurs varies considerably: from 16% in South Korea to 55% in Ghana (the only economy with more female entrepreneurs).[citation needed] Moreover, in many emerging economies, women are now starting a business faster than men, making significant contributions to job creation and economic growth. Women are also more likely to start businesses focused on sustainability.[28][29][30]

Developing countries


A disproportionate share of female-owned businesses in developing countries today are either small or medium enterprises, which often do not mature as a result of negative growth and poverty. Understanding the specific barriers women's businesses face and providing solutions to address them is necessary to further leverage the economic power of women for growth and the attainment of development goals.



Nigeria is currently the leading economy in Africa and holds much potential growth for female entrepreneurs.[31] Women in leadership roles do not significantly differ from men in Nigeria, indicating there is significant growth potential once barriers to entry have been removed.[32]



The government of Kazakhstan supports the development of female-led small and medium businesses. For example, in cooperation with EBRD, Kazakhstan executes the Women in Business program. The budget of the program is $50 million.[33] Empowerment of Women in the Corporate Sector is an international forum held in Astana, Kazakhstan.[34] 44% of all businesses in Kazakhstan are female-owned and contribute to Kazakhstan's economic development and modernization.[34]

In order to support women and women's organizations with a view to sustainable and inclusive development, Kazakhstan held the OSCE-supported Second International Women's Forum on Future Energy: Women, Business, and the Global Economy in August 2017. The conference also focused on the importance of teaching women new technologies as a form of social entrepreneurship.[35]



Kenya has also seen significant growth for women in business; encouraging entrepreneurship by women has been an important approach to poverty in Kenya.[36][37] The Kenyan government, with support from NGOs, has created many programs providing access to financial resources, loans, and entrepreneurial education. Two examples are the Women's Enterprise Fund, enacted in 2007, and the creation of the Women's University of Science and Technology.[36] The Women's Enterprise Fund allows women greater access to small loans and financial services, such as bank accounts.[36] The Women's University of Science and Technology, which is the first all-women's university in Kenya, allows women to access higher education and entrepreneurial training.[36] These programs have empowered women to create small to medium-size enterprises, such as tailoring and bead-making. Kenyan society has also seen some shift in women's roles from caretakers to business owners, as called for in Vision 2030 - the Kenyan government's initiative to empower women, to achieve greater gender equality, economic growth, and to alleviate poverty.[36][38]

The barriers women face to becoming entrepreneurs are exemplified through the perspectives of existing female entrepreneurs in Kenya. Mary Okello, the executive director of a cluster of private schools called Makini schools, discussed the difficulty of accessing loans. She explained that a major issue in Kenya was that only 1% of land is owned solely by women which makes it difficult for them to offer a bank collateral. Another obstacle for women in business is the limited foundational support from the Kenyan government. This is expressed through the experience of Esther Passaris, managing director of Adopt A Light. She recalled that when her organization partnered with the Council, there was no clear and evident framework for the next progressive steps and she felt the government could have provided a more effective way of protecting her business.[39]



In some other African countries like Ghana, women such as Ayisha Fuseini have benefited from grants and sponsorships from NGOs and big business like Camfed and the MasterCard Foundation's Innovation Bursary Program (IBP) and became entrepreneurs in their own right.[40][41]



In Thailand the gender gap in education has reduced. In 2015, women were almost half of the 38.8 million in the labor force: 17.6 million or 45.8 percent were women. Gender equality is guaranteed by the Thai constitution. As a result, Thailand is one of the countries with the highest number of women in management positions.[42] Thailand has 45% more women in CEO positions than the ASEAN countries and China, and 36% of senior managers are women, higher than the G7 countries (21%).[43] Thailand is also one of the world's best-performing countries when it comes to women in senior business roles. The kingdom also has a high workforce participation rate for women: 60.1% in March 2019. Thailand consistently comes in the top five Asia-Pacific countries with the highest number of women in executive roles.[42]

Developed countries


United Kingdom


A surge in the number of women starting businesses in the United Kingdom has narrowed the so-called "enterprise gap" between male and female company owners in the past decade. The proportion of working-age women going into business rose by 45% in the three-year period between 2013 and 2016, compared with 2003 to 2006, according to a report by Aston University in Birmingham. The share of working-age men going into business increased by 27% during the same period.[44]

United States


The number of female-owned businesses in the United States is growing at twice the rate of all firms. As of 2018, around 40% of US firms are majority-owned by women, much higher than most other developed economies.[45] Corporate support for women in business is also on the rise, with small business grants[46] made available to help women in business.[47][48]

Affirmative action has been credited with "bringing a generation of women into business ownership" in the United States, following the 1988 Women's Business Ownership Act and subsequent measures.[49]

See also



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Further reading

  • Roger E. Axtell, Tami Briggs, Margaret Corcoran, and Mary Beth Lamb, Do's and Taboos Around the World for Women in Business
  • Douglas Branson, No Seat at the Table: How Corporate Governance and Law Keep Women Out of the Boardroom
  • Christ, M. H. 2016. Women in internal audit: Perspectives from around the world. Altamonte Springs, FL: The IIA Research Foundation 2016.
  • Hine, Darlene Clark. Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America: Business and Professions (1997)
  • Krismann, Carol. Encyclopedia of American Women in Business From Colonial Times to the Present (2004)
  • Lin Coughlin, Ellen Wingard, and Keith Hollihan, Enlightened Power: How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership
  • Harvard Business School Press, editors, Harvard Business Review on Women in Business
  • National Women's Business Council, African American Women-owned Businesses (2012)
  • National Women's Business Council, Women in Business: 2007-2010 (2012)
  • Deborah Rhode, The Difference ""Difference"" Makes: Women and Leadership (2002)
  • Judy B. Rosener, America's Competitive Secret: Women Managers
  • Robert E. Seiler, Women in the Accounting Profession (1986)