Number of women running businesses doubles since 2007

THE number of women who run their own businesses has doubled since 2007, according to new research from the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The findings from the first national survey of women business owners and female entrepreneurs were released this week, in time for International Women’s Day today.

The research, open only to women business owners, found that 78 per cent of respondents left employment at middle to upper management levels to start their business.

Dr Patrice Braun, director of the Centre for Regional Innovation and Competitiveness at the University of Ballarat, was on the steering committee for the study, and said that while the results were promising, much more needed to be done to promote women entrepreneurship.

Dr Braun pointed to the need to provide more flexible working environments to women as one example.

“The reason women left the corporate structure is because of the lack of flexibility,” she said. “What we need to do is create enabling environments for women in general, but for women in business in particular.”

Dr Braun said the study results showed that 96 per cent of women thought that childcare should be tax deductable.

“That’s one example of an enabling environment,” she said. “It would enable women to actually afford to put children into childcare.

“Technology makes it a bit easier now, but women still have to shop, look after children, care for ageing parents – all of those things tend to fall on the shoulders of women.”

Dr Braun said the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry was awaiting 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics data so it could embark on further studies.

“The 78 per cent of respondents who left employment at middle to upper management levels – we refer to them as corporate refugees,” she said.

“They really hit the glass ceiling.

“We’ve come a long way, but we haven’t yet come far enough.”