Do women in the American business world fare better than those in the UK?

girl holding uk and usa flags

Recent reports by UENI highlight the contrasting levels of opportunity female entrepreneurs face in the UK and USA.

Here at UENI, in honour of the upcoming International Women’s Day 2020, we have been turning our attention to the current representation of women in business across the globe.  

Our most recent inquiry into the American entrepreneurial landscape, published earlier this week, revealed some interesting insights about the disparate level of opportunity female entrepreneurs face across both countries. 

Relevantly, small businesses across each country make up around 99% of the total business count (Fundera, Startups), making for comparatively similar entrepreneurial environments. 

So, just how different is the situation for female entrepreneurs looking to startup in Great Britain and America? 

A step behind

According to our latest data, American women in 2020 have significantly higher chances of opening a business than their counterparts in the UK. 

On average, women in the UK reportedly account for around 32.77% of the country’s business owners.

By contrast, 45.02% of all businesses in the USA are women-owned. 

This finding means that statistically speaking, women in America are 40% more likely to own a business than those in the UK. 

This gap is likely not new. Previous sources dating back to 2017 have cited US women as being twice as likely to be ‘entrepreneurially active’ in comparison to their UK equivalents. 

Some have put this disparity down to the greater bias women face from investors when raising funds in the UK, a lack of comparable support networks in place and the need for further public sector programmes to match those in the USA. 


When it comes to average company size for women’s businesses across both countries, some interesting trends emerge. 

One such trend that holds true across the spectrum is that the bigger the company, the less likely it is that a woman is running it. 

Looking at the businesses surveyed that reported employing a minimum of 4 or more people, there’s a marked drop in both cases for female founders within this category. 

It’s also interesting to note that women in America are specifically far more likely to be involved in sole proprietorship, with over 50% of all sole proprietors in the US being female. 

Insight on industry sectors

Finally, there is some considerable overlap when it comes to the types of companies women are running in 2020 across both nations.

Hair and Beauty, Consumables, as well as Gifts and Occasions are the sectors that show the highest levels of female entrepreneurship in both the UK and America. 

Case in point; women make up around 76% of all Hair and Beauty related business owners in each analysis. 

Equally, female entrepreneurs are least present when it comes to areas such as Electronics and Appliances, Construction and Car services. 

This is reminiscent of the OECD’s reports in recent years that women’s businesses tend to be ‘smaller scale’ and in a ‘limited range’ of sectors, despite typically contributing to economic growth.

Final thoughts

In 2020, American businesses are still ahead of the curve when it comes to the entrepreneurial gender gap. 

Although they have yet to reach a more equal balance in business ownership, women there are still 40% more likely to own a business than their counterparts in the UK. 

However, it must be stated that both countries exhibit some similar patterns when it comes to the kinds of businesses women are running, and their average size. 

All in all, both American and British women continue to be more prevalent in so-called ‘traditionally feminine’ industries (e.g. Hair and Beauty), and are less likely to run larger companies. 

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