At a glance, it would seem that there is a lot to celebrate when it comes to the issue of gender equality among entrepreneurs and business owners in Australia.
According to the latest Census data, the number of female business owners has jumped since between 2006 and 2012. That same pool of data also shows that there are now also more female than male business owners between the age of 35 and 44.
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Also, the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index found that next to the US, Australia is the second best place in the world for budding female entrepreneurs.
So, all good news, right? Well, not exactly.
There are holes in Australia’s data that perhaps indicates what’s really happening with female entrepreneurship. It’s growing, but a lack of data means we’re not tracking the problems that are developing along with it.
For instance, we’re still unclear as to how many female start-up founders are receiving funding from venture capitalists. The start-up scene is booming in Australia, but are female entrepreneurs being left behind?
If it were anything like the US, the figures (if they existed) would be staggering.
The Australian Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) recently launched a campaign about the lack of data on whether or not Federal Government contracts are being awarded to female business owners.
Such data are monitored in the US, where five per cent of government contracts must be awarded to female-led companies.
In a statement, Executive Director Yolanda Vega of the AWCCI suggested that the “real reason why data is not available is because the reality would be shameful”.
The lack of data also means Australia is left off multiple international studies on female employment and entrepreneurship. Finding current, relevant data on all facets of Australian life is usually a safe bet with the OECD database, but that’s not the case with female entrepreneurs.
Indeed, the most current data available from the OECD on the topic at the moment revolves use of time by gender, which has led to a slew of stories on the number of hours women spend doing housework and chores.
Vega suggests that the government should collect data surrounding female entrepreneurship “annually, if not bi-annually”, to ensure that we’re keeping an eye on the trend and also to entice overseas investors to promote its growth.
As it stands, we’ll have to wait until the 2018 Census to get another empirical look at the progress of the trend.
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