What women want: Barriers to female entrepreneurship in the West Midlands

Joan Lockyer, Sharon George

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to explore the barriers that inhibit the development of female entrepreneurship in the West Midlands. This region is characterised by pronounced low levels of participation in higher education and entrepreneurship. With the support of funding from the Lifelong Learning Network (LLN), the paper contributes to a re‐evaluation of the current support available to women entrepreneurs and informs and aligns the provision of services to the needs of women across the region and beyond.
    Design/methodology/approach– A study was commissioned by the LLN to identify the main barriers to female entrepreneurship in the Staffordshire, Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire areas. The main business support provision available to assist female entrepreneurs in June 2009 was mapped and these data were used in an online questionnaire to identify the level of awareness of this support provision amongst women in the target area, as part of the larger pilot study. An extensive online questionnaire consisting of 44 questions was designed in Version 1.82 of LimeSurvey, an open source PHP based survey tool. The survey was designed to capture information on the relationship between aspirations to start a business, demographic information, past experience of entrepreneurship, current skills levels, perceived barriers and knowledge of current business support provision.
    Findings– Whilst for many women accessibility to training was a major issue, an area of greater concern was found to be financial risk and the belief that women are less likely to start a business if they have a friend or family member with a business. The research findings suggested that even vicarious exposure to the pressures of running a business was a positive deterrent to entrepreneurship.
    Social implications– The research findings suggest that the mechanisms (business support agencies) through which information and support are provided to potential entrepreneurs needs to be reviewed. This preliminary research suggests that the existing infrastructure is inadequate and as business support is becoming more streamlined as a result of the public sector spending review, it could inform the nature and range of support provided to women entrepreneurs within the region and beyond.
    Originality/value– In addition to contributing to development of strategy within the region, the authors feel that the research could have wider implication for regions with a similar economic profile to the West Midlands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-195
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2012


    • England
    • Women
    • Entrepreneurialism
    • Self-employment
    • Training
    • Education
    • Women's entrepreneurship
    • Masculinity
    • Micro businesses
    • Networking


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