A recent survey conducted by the social enterprise Code First Girls reveals that 40 percent of female entrepreneurs have encountered gender-based discrimination while in leadership roles.

This finding underscores the persistent gender biases that women face in the business world.

The survey also highlighted that 61 percent of respondents believe stereotypes still create significant barriers for women striving to attain senior roles, with leadership positions predominantly favouring men. These entrenched stereotypes continue to hinder women’s progress in the business sector.

Confidence emerges as another major obstacle, with over half (51%) of the Code First Girls community identifying it as the primary challenge for female entrepreneurs today.This lack of confidence in their skills and abilities often impedes their business growth and leadership potential.

Male vs female founders

Supporting these findings, recent research from Enterprise Nation revealed a notable disparity in initial turnover expectations between male and female founders. Female founders of full-time businesses anticipate making £10,000 less than their male counterparts in the first year, with male founders expecting £35,106 compared to £25,213 for women.

Moreover, the Government’s annual Small Business Survey reported that only 18 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with employees are led by women. This stark underrepresentation highlights the urgent need for initiatives that promote gender equality in business leadership.

Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, commented on the survey results, emphasising the unique challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship: “When it comes to entrepreneurship, women face a number of unique gender-based challenges. Differences in pay result in smaller financial safety nets for new businesses, a lack of confidence in skills and ability halts growth, and a lack of role models prevents women from believing that they can be a successful business leader.”

“In a time of economic uncertainty, it matters now, more than ever, that we encourage and support women into business leadership roles. By improving access to funding, women mentorship programmes, and training, we can help women to build and grow their businesses at the same rate as their male counterparts.”

The survey results clearly indicate that the business industry must address the leadership gender gap by fostering a more inclusive environment that supports and uplifts women in their entrepreneurial journeys.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.