Figures suggest that women only currently make up 17 per cent of business owners in the UK and are half as likely as their male counterparts to start a new business venture, signifying a need to offer more female entrepreneur role models, says Beatrice Bartlay, entrepreneur.

Bartlay, who is founder and managing director of 2B Interface, a specialist recruitment agency commented: “It is up to us to inspire the next generation of women and show them that they can achieve highly in business – and the way to do this is through more diverse representation of females in business.”

Female entrepreneurs represented in popular media tend to often be involved in businesses operating in areas such as retail, arts, food, crafts, beauty, healthcare etc. Bartlay said: “It’s all very cute and cuddly and reinforcing of the type of roles women are likely to fulfill, plus ‘mend and make do’ style businesses are very in vogue, and there is a risk that it is not sustainable. This is great and it’s encouraging to see more women represented as business owners but we need to encourage those women who are in less traditionally female positions to come forward and share their stories to inspire diversity.

“We must see more representation of the female entrepreneur who has set up and engineering company, the female CIO, the female welder or the female manufacturing business owner,” added Bartlay.

Statistically, women are more likely to own businesses that operate from home, are part time and are lower-order services. For example, the past few years have seen a boom in cupcake and bakery businesses set up by women, with new baking ventures increasing by 325 per cent since the recession hit in 2009 and these have been widely reported on in the press.

Bartlay stated: “As with all issues relating to women in business and equal opportunities, improvements are being seen at the moment in all areas – but these improvements are progressing slowly, and are not wide spread. Although women are increasingly self-employed, there has actually been no change in women’s’ share of business ownership since 1992.

“Younger girls need to be aware that self-employment or starting a business are fantastic career choices. Not only that, but there is no limit to the areas that they can branch into – they do not need to fulfill perceived roles and should be inspired by a newer generation of role models,” concluded Bartlay.