Over the years, the European Union has launched several initiatives and a support system to encourage female entrepreneurs to pursue their careers. The European Commission is specifically focused on this issue and is trying different approaches to tackle it.
According to EuroChambers Women Network (EWN), women make up a total of 52% of the European population, but they represent only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs.
The European Commission report published in 2014 showed that just 30% of entrepreneurs in the EU were women in 2012. However, another study published in 2019 by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation proved that women aged 25 to 34 had higher education degrees than men in the European Union (44% compared to 34%).
The gender pay gap and the lack of investments in companies run solely by women are two major issues that Europe is facing. As Euronovia reports, “A study by the venture capital fund Atomico shows that in 2020, only 1.7% of investments in tech start-ups would go to companies run solely by women in Europe.”
According to the European Commission, the gender pay gap in the EU stands at 14.1% and has only changed minimally over the last decade. They also reported that “The position in the hierarchy influences the level of pay: less than 8% of top companies’ CEOs are women. Nevertheless, the profession with the largest differences in hourly earnings in the EU were managers: 23 % lower earnings for women than for men.”
Eurostat published data that shows the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees as a percentage of male gross earnings for 2020. The data confirmed that in 2020, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 13% below those of men in the EU. Also, the highest gender pay gap in the EU was recorded in Latvia at 22.3%, while the lowest was in Luxembourg at 0.7%.
However, the inequality issue has been identified across the European Union and a lot of effort is being made to solve this problem. For example, Positive Lab in Germany and the Club Génération #Startuppeuse in France help and support women on their entrepreneurial journey. Also, several joint initiatives have been established recently in the EU, such as WEgate, which is an online platform for women who want to start, run and develop a business. It provides access to information, training, mentoring and business networks, The European Women Business Angels Community, or the European Networks of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors and Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs. Also, The European Innovation Council’s EU Prize for Women Innovators awards a €100,000 prize to three women who have developed the most outstanding start-up projects across Europe.