The gap between women and men entrepreneurs is decreasing, according to latest GEM Special Report on Female Entrepreneurship, but in the entrepreneurial ecosystem continue to dominate them, just like in the research posts and university teaching. Taryn Andersen is the CEO and Co-founder of Impulse4women, a platform that connects women entrepreneurs of the technological field and projects of impact with investors and corporations. “When we started it was very difficult to reach them”, she assures, and although now there are many more, the projects they lead are in very early stages. “Of course there are women startup leaders who have been able to raise many millions of euros, especially in northern Europe, but it’s true that in Spain many are starting now”. That is because a new generation is joining this world, “young people who are aware that women can do whatever they want”.

In recent years, Taryn Andersen has seen how women-led projects at Impulse4women have been growing. “We have a lot of wonderful women and the opportunities are the same: if they have a good business model, a good team and returns on capital to demonstrate that the model is valid and can be scaled there is no difference between man and woman”, assures the expert, who since 2017 is general partner of the venture capital fund Telegraph Hill Capital. Any advice? “They have to think big. They must focus on the project, look for opportunities, create relationships with the people who are in the ecosystem, ask for money and, if they don’t like it, there are always prizes and grants”.

In the university

This gender gap begins at university level, where the referents are still male, especially in research and studies related to business management. Anna Ginès is a professor at Esade Law School and coordinator of Equal4Europe, a four-year project to promote gender equality in research and higher education centers that is part of the Horizon 2020 Programme and in which seven other international institutions collaborate. After a year of work, they have finished with the first diagnostic phase.

The data has confirmed, for example, the wage gap existing among research personnel and teaching staff of the institutions investigated, which basically focus on social sciences, management, business, law and humanities. “Another conclusion that we also expected is that there is vertical segregation, in the sense that as we go up the career ladder we find fewer women”, says Ginès. According to data from She Figures, the document drawn up by the EU since 2003 through its Commissariat of Research, Science and innovation in which the situation of women scientists and / or academics in European universities and research centers is presented, there are 47% female PhD candidates, 33% female researchers and 20% full-time female professors. “The origin of this segregation we have discovered lies in the applications”, she adds. “When a university posts a job vacancy, there are approximately 25% female candidates, well below what we could expect if we have a 47% pool of female PhDs. We see here that there is clearly a loss of female talent”. One of the reasons could be the lack of reference points; “the stereotypical researcher is male”. The same is true of the collaborating professor: “The presence of women is around 30%, in this case”, says the expert.

Another hypothesis about the lack of candidates is that “the academic career requires a lot of dedication and investment in time, that often can be seen as incompatible for women who want an involved motherhood”. This career is based on objective merits and “in the current meritocracy process there are gender biases”. Among others items, what is particularly valued is the number of publications. “A man can have 25 and a woman 15. If we do not include the perspective of gender in the selection process, we would certainly choose the man, but she may have had two maternity periods in previous years. We must dismantle the discourse of meritocracy and take steps such as establishing a minimum merits level that the candidates should have and, from there, we could assess the quality of the articles and the journals where they have published”.

The data has also shown that there is “horizontal segregation”. There are many women in universities, in areas of administration and services, but “their presence in management positions in research institutions is very small, also in those of academic direction. And although Esade has managed to reach 40%, we must continue working”, says the researcher. She points out a last conclusion of the first part of the study: “There is very little presence of the gender perspective in teaching and in research. It is not in the training sessions of students and teachers, and it is not appearing in research. There is a lack of awareness and specific measures to promote the gender perspective in a transversal manner”


Entrepreneurship in general in traditional companies:

According to the report GEM World from 2018/19, for every 10 male entrepreneurs in Spain there are there are 9 women entrepreneurs.

The ratio in the total of the European Union is 6 women for every 10 men. In the report, Spain is ranked 16th in the world for starting a business, above countries such as Germany (19th), Japan (20th) or United Kingdom (30th).

Female entrepreneurship in the field of technology:

According to the Report ‘Entrepreneurship map 2019′ made by Spain Startup-South Summit, in Spain 39% of the ‘Start-ups’ have at least one woman entrepreneur within the team, the average in Europe being 36%.

An analysis of the Oliver Wyman (2020) showed how Spain, with 25%, was the country with more fintech start-ups directives in Europe, the average of the sector being 20% in Europe.

The profile of women who start companies in the digital field in Spain is quite wide, although the highest number have the following characteristics:

  • A woman between 35 and 45 years old, married or with a partner and without offspring
  • Highly qualified, with a university degree and a Master or Doctorate
  • With experience professional, employed by someone else at the moment of starting the business, and with at least 15 years work experience.
  • Has held a position of responsibility in the business world, as intermediate command or even in top management
  • Feels that they have the capabilities sufficient to start a business (82.6%) in spite of gaps in knowledge about business creation and management

Characteristics of the digital companies founded by women in Spain:

A micro-company, where 70% have between 0 and 4 employees. The majority don’t have more than 10 employees (88.2%). 95% of the surveyed companies are less than 10 years old, with the majority having been founded less than 5 years ago (75.8%)

Data from the study “Female digital entrepreneurship in Spain: Situation and prospecting report, from the Institute of Women”