Cultural and societal beliefs weren’t always in favour of women. These made the road to professional success and leadership in a male-dominated world a rocky one. This article will examine regional trends in women’s entrepreneurship, challenges they encounter, and the importance of women’s leadership.

The Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) for women varies regionally. This phenomenon could be explained by various factors such as cultural differences, income level, gender disparities, etc. GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) created a report about women’s entrepreneurship for 2020/2021 in which they discuss and analyse women’s involvement in business.

Central and East Asia

TEA rates for women are often high in low-income countries, where women have a high labour force participation rate. The highest TEA rates in Central and East Asia were found in Kazakhstan, where one in five women was in the early stages of business start-up.


The rate of entrepreneurial activity for women stands at 5.7%, compared with a world average of 11%. European women have the lowest rates of entrepreneurship compared to women in other regions. This is because they have more job options and benefits that prevent unemployment.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region include some of the most vibrant entrepreneurial economies in the world. The region asserts the highest rates of women’s entrepreneurship, with remarkable patterns of high-growth activity and participation in the often male-dominated manufacturing and transportation sector. 

However, they also have the highest business closure rates in the world, 20% higher than men entrepreneurs, suggesting a high level of uncertainty in their markets.

The Middle East and Africa

The region highlights some of the highest rates of women’s entrepreneurial intentions in the world. However, they can’t translate these intentions into new businesses, probably because of the cultural barriers and conservative systems of gender beliefs and restrictions in some countries. The region includes a country with one of the highest ratios of female-to-male Established Business Ownership (Angola), and those with some of the lowest rates like Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

North America

Women’s entrepreneurship activity in North America has historically been the strongest. TEA rates for women in 2020 were at 13.6% and 13.9% in the U.S. and Canada, respectively, which was above the women’s average globally (11%).

What Challenges Do Female Leaders and Entrepreneurs Encounter?

For generations, men have dominated leadership positions, as women’s prowess at climbing the professional ladder was slowed down by several challenges such as sexism and stereotypes. As leadership doesn’t need a gender, women must have the same opportunities as their male counterparts (not all of whom are competent at their jobs).

Some obstacles women may encounter in business are:

Unconscious Bias

There is an assumption that career and family can’t go together, and that women must choose between these two. By unconscious bias, we refer to the learned stereotypes that have been deeply ingrained in our minds. According to Nadine Chochoiek, a German researcher, coach, and consultant, these stereotypes are automatic and unintentional. She says that our mind uses shortcuts to unconsciously categorise and format information into familiar patterns.

So, if you’re asked to think about a successful entrepreneur, you’re more likely to think of a man than a woman. This perception goes back to the socially constructed idea that men are supposed to be the breadwinners. Therefore, they’re more associated with business, while women are the angels in the house.

Themselves and Not Being Taken Seriously

One of the main obstacles facing women is themselves. Because of stereotypes, many aspiring female leaders or entrepreneurs ‌censor themselves and hide their full potential. They underestimate their abilities, while they’re equally qualified as their male counterparts. But even if they try to rise above preconceived expectations, they often find themselves in a male-dominated industry that doesn’t acknowledge their leadership role.

Lack of Resources and Access to Funding

Looking for investors to get their businesses off the ground is difficult, and it’s even more challenging for female entrepreneurs. It’s hard to have connections to these networks, as men still dominate most high-level businesses.

Adding to that, women tend to be more conservative and don’t overstate projections. When they pitch investors, they pitch realistic numbers. However, men tend to exaggerate. Therefore, investors provide less money than the requested amount for women because they assume they’re also inflating their numbers.

Why is Female Leadership Important?

It’s about time that we break with the stereotype of women being nurturing creatures who can’t lead. Some studies have shown how that can affect women in the workplace. Women who violated the caring stereotype were at a disadvantage and paid for it, whether in the hiring process or in their evaluations. Therefore, it’s imperative to dismantle these gender differences and encourage more female involvement in business since it has several perks:

A Source of Inspiration for Young Girls

Although most businesses and organisations are male-dominated, it’s inspiring for younger girls to see women blazing their own path and reversing their under-representation in the ranks of power.

Women Are Better Leaders During a Crisis

That women are often better leaders became prominent after the Covid-19 pandemic. Studies have shown that countries led by women coped better with the pandemic, as its outcomes, such as the number of cases and deaths, were significantly lower. There’s a phenomenon called “Glass Cliff” which refers to the idea of putting women in charge during a period of crisis when the chances of failure are highest. 

Women are also seen as more effective leaders. They received a significantly higher employee engagement level than male leaders.

List of Successful Female Business Leaders

Women CEOs are behind some of the most recognised businesses in the world. These include:

Mary Barra

CEO of General Motors since 2014 and the first woman to lead one of the big three automakers in the U.S.

Marillyn Hewson

In 2013, she became CEO of Lockheed Martin, an American global aerospace, defence, security, and advanced technologies company. It contracts with the U.S most high-profile organisations, such as surveillance and information processing for the CIA, FBI, IRS, NSA, and The Pentagon.  

Lisa Su

In 2014, she became CEO of AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), the American semiconductor company developing computer processors for both the business and consumer markets.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

In 2012, Herd joined the dating app Tinder and became its marketing manager. She was also credited for the app’s name. However, she left the company in 2014 and created her own dating app, Bumble, designed to give women more control. She is also CEO of MagicLab, the parent company of several dating apps, including Bumble, Latch, and Badoo.

This article doesn’t ‌undermine men’s skills and qualifications to be in leadership roles. However, it’s high time for women to rise to their full potential. So, here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. And men who advocate women empowerment, we see you, we love you, and we appreciate you.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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