Industry Insights & Trends

Global Trends Women in the Workplace/Entrepreneurs


From research, recent global trends on the landscape of women entrepreneurs include an increasing number of women-owned businesses, women entrepreneurs finding it difficult to obtain business funding, and a less favorable business environment for women-owned businesses while recent global trends on the landscape of women in the workplace include gender inequality in leadership, increased sexual harassment awareness at the workplace, and disproportionate impacts from unpaid caregiving responsibilities. In addition, the effects of COVID on women entrepreneurs include an impact on the sales and revenue of women-owned businesses, increased care demands because of COVID restrictions, and difficulty in adapting to digital operations while the effects of COVID on women in the workplace include increased intimate partner and family violence, higher risk of infection and exposure to COVID, and disproportionate job losses. A detailed overview of the research findings and strategy follows below.

Global Trends on the Landscape of Women Entrepreneurs

1. Increasing Number of Women-owned Businesses

  • According to Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs report, even though women entrepreneurs face many challenges, they are opening successful enterprises faster than ever before. The report took into account the progress and achievement of women entrepreneurs and business owners in 58 countries across the world.
  • According to the World Bank, female participation in the ownership of new businesses has been experiencing systematic growth among newly registered firms.
  • However, female business ownership is not similar across the world with different regions having widely differing statistics of ownership.
  • Globally, 34% of small, medium, and large businesses are owned by women. Additionally, regional statistics are as follows: East Asia & Pacific – 47%, Europe & Central Asia – 33%, Latin America & Caribbean – 50%, Middle East & North Africa – 23%, South Asia – 18%, and Sub-Saharan Africa – 29%.
  • According to a report by Visa, the global growth rate of female entrepreneurship has been increasing faster than that of male entrepreneurs with more than 250 million women engaging in entrepreneurship activities.

2. Persistent Difficulties in Obtaining Business Funding

  • According to the WorldBank, “women face greater challenges in accessing financial accounts and services than men.” Except for North America, the share of women that have access to a financial account at a financial institution is less than the rate of men.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, less than 40% of women have financial accounts while in Europe & Central Asia, men are 4% more likely to have financial accounts than women.

3. Less Favorable Business Environment

Global Trends on the Landscape of Women in the Workplace

1. Gender Inequality in Leadership

  • According to UN Women, women remain less likely to participate in the global labor market than men with a labor force participation rate of 63% for women aged between 25-54 years and 94% for men of the same age. If younger women aged 15 years and up and older women aged 55 years and up are considered, the labor participation rate drops to 48.5%, a figure that is 26.5% below that of men.
  • In leadership roles, women professionals account for only 29% of senior roles globally. This figure goes further down when looking at Fortune 500 companies where only 5% of CEOs are women.
  • UN Women noted that “companies greatly benefit from increased employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth.” However, despite these benefits, gender inequality still exists in business leadership.
  • Even though gender equality is now a global issue that governments and corporations are trying to actively tackle with changes in laws and policies, the trend of gender inequality in leadership roles still persists.
  • For example, in the United States, for every 100 men promoted to managerial positions, only 85 women are also promoted. This resulted in women being significantly outnumbered by men in entry-level management at the beginning of 2020.
  • Another example from the United States notes that in the legal profession, women account for 45% of associates but only 22.7% of partners and 19% of equity partners while in medicine, women account for 40% of all physicians and surgeons but only 16% of permanent medical school deans.

2. Increased Sexual Harassment Awareness at the Workplace

3. Disproportionate Impacts from Unpaid Caregiving Responsibilities

Effects of COVID on Women Entrepreneurs

1. Impact on Sales and Revenue

  • The COVID pandemic has resulted in a decrease in the sales and revenue of most women-owned enterprises.
  • A study that was carried out by the International Trade Center reported that 64% of women-led firms declared that their business operations were strongly affected by the COVID pandemic as compared to 52% of men-led companies.
  • Another survey by WEConnect International reported that more than 90% of women entrepreneurs reported a decrease in sales during the pandemic. Additionally, they also reported that they had only 3 months of cash flow for their businesses to survive on.
  • From the information presented above, it can be concluded that the COVID pandemic disproportionately impacted the business owned by women as compared to those owned by men.

2. Increased Care Demands Because of COVID Restrictions

3. Difficulty in Adapting to Digital Operations

Effects of COVID on Women in the Workplace

1. Increased Intimate Partner and Family Violence

  • The COVID pandemic resulted in worldwide restrictions on movement in numerous countries across the world. The restrictions that developed from the pandemic ended up resulting in more incidences of intimate partner and family violence.
  • The chance of women and children being exposed to domestic violence because of the isolation, and stay-at-home orders that were meant to curb the spread of the virus dramatically increased as families started to spend more time in close contact and isolation. Violence risks grew even higher when potential economic and job losses were factored in.
  • The Easter Mediterranean region is home to the second-highest prevalence of violence against women globally with a rate of 37%. This is because of the existence of structural systems that oppresses women at different levels of society.
  • Information from 2 countries in the region pointed to an increase of between 50% and 60% in the number of domestic violence cases during the pandemic. On the other hand, the UN estimated that intimate partner and domestic violence cases increased by 20% globally during the lockdowns.

2. Higher Risk of Infection and Exposure to COVID

  • In reference to the Impact of COVID-19 on Women policy brief, women are more likely to be at risk of infection and exposure because of occupational sex-segregation i.e. globally, women make up around 70% of health workers and are more likely to be frontline health personnel such as nurses, midwives, and community health workers.
  • In some countries, although women hold jobs in the high-risk service sector, they have less access to personal protective equipment and correctly sized protective equipment. Despite this disproportionate effects of COVID on women, they are “often not reflected in national or global decision- making on the response to COVID-19.”
  • Examples of how women in the workplace are at a higher risk of infection and exposure to COVID comes from Spain and Italy. In Spain, a total of 7,329 healthcare workers were infected and out of this number, 72% were women while in Italy, a total of 10,657 healthcare workers were infected with 66% of the number accounting for women.

3. Disproportionate Job Loses

  • The COVID pandemic resulted in widespread loss of jobs on a global scale. However, women were affected more than men as “the pandemic and measures to prevent its spread drove a disproportionate increase in women’s unemployment as compared to men and also decreased their overall working time.”
  • The jobs that women held were more affected than those held by men because the most impacted sectors have more women than men workers. Women are over-represented in many of the worst-hit industries such as food service, retail, and entertainment. For instance, 40% of all women in employment work in hard-hit sectors as compared to 36.6% of employed men.
  • In April, the pandemic resulted in around 20.5 million Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits after losing their jobs. Out of the above figure, 55% were women.
  • The national unemployment rate of the United States increased from 4.4% to 14.7% in April and although women make up a smaller percentage of the American workforce, a slight majority of the people that lost their jobs in the country as a result of the pandemic were women i.e. 55% of the recently unemployed.

Research Strategy:

For the first and second parts, we were able to find a total of six recent trends that have been observed within the global women entrepreneurship sector and workplace landscape. The bulk of our findings came from the trends that were mentioned across various credible reports by news, financial consultancies & institutions, press release, and global aid organizations such as Forbes, McKinsey, PRNewswire, Mastercard, Visa, the International Financial Corporation, the United Nations, and the World Bank.

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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