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Women web entrepreneurs in Europe
StartUP Europe WeHubs exploratory survey’s findings

Women web entrepreneurs in Europe: which challenges they meet and how ecosystems could better support them.

ECWT just released the StartUP Europe WeHubs exploratory survey’s findings.

The survey is the first of its kind as, amidst a lot of research on women entrepreneurship in general, there are no studies available dealing with women web entrepreneurs in particular. What is already known is that women represent a minority of startuppers and digital founders in Europe, only 19% of the total.

Respondents included almost 100 women web entrepreneurs, working in different business sectors ranging from software development, marketing and social media to culture, health and tourism across Europe. 50 % of them identified access to funding as the main challenge to face when starting up a new business in the digital sector and 41% named the identification and access to support services among the main difficulties.

In terms of use and assessment of ecosystems and their services – the study highlights how women are mostly satisfied of the quality for mentoring, networking and events hosting services, while low levels of quality are frequently mentioned by almost half of respondents for  bank financial advice (61%), high speed internet access (41%), IP advice (48%), prototyping center (61%), legal advice (42%) and accounting (48%).

Other important emerging themes are related to gender biased treatment and work life balance, pinpointed in the Infographic on gender dimensions of web entrepreneurship -. 51% of women web entrepreneurs experienced gender biased treatment at least once in the work environment, often from stakeholders’ ecosystems representatives and/or bank and financial advisors.

The survey shows that despite all these challenges, women have a big ability to overcome difficulties and reach their objectives: 61% of the respondents increased its level of self confidence after starting up. In contrast with the widely spread stereotype about women entrepreneurs lacking self confidence, our respondents witness how it is all about experience. In addition, work life balance is still experienced as a hindering factor by the vast majority of participants to the survey.

What measures women think would be most useful for making digital start up ecosystems working better for women? In women web entrepreneurs’ opinion, measures such as free tuition for mentorship (46%), female mentors/advisors (43%), female entrepreneurs as partners (41%), and family friendly arrangements would be highly desirable for improving support to women web entrepreneurs. For 76% of our sample, dedicated actions and services for women only would benefit the purpose of bringing more women to web entrepreneurship.

Based on these results and an ongoing dialogue with the 6 initial project’s nodes, WeHubs will now proceed designing a scorecard for women friendly business support organizations, and several other services already on the agenda, such as e-mentoring trainings and tailored webinars for digital start up ecosystems.