• Children are four times as likely to think of a man than a woman when they hear the word ‘entrepreneur’
  • More boys than girls say their parents have encouraged them to start a business, with over a quarter (27%) of parents believing entrepreneurship is male-dominated as men are ‘more business minded’
  • Together with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Santander launches campaign to raise the profile of female entrepreneurs and encourage more young women to consider entrepreneurship as a career 

A staggering 81% of 11-18-year olds are unable to name a single female entrepreneur, according to new research1 from Santander.

The study also found that children today are nearly four times as likely to think of a man than a woman when they hear the word ‘entrepreneur’ (37% vs. 10%). 

Over six in ten – 63% – of girls aged 11-18 said they have never thought about starting their own business, with the main reason cited that they don’t know anything about how to begin (43%).

With only a fifth of businesses in Britain being run by women2, the research highlights the knock-on effect the lack of visible female role models is having on the next generation. 

The research also suggests that parents across the UK may play a part in perpetuating an entrepreneurship gender divide, with just a third – 35% – of girls stating that they have been encouraged by their parents to become an entrepreneur (versus 42% of boys).

The study also found that almost half – 46% – of parents believe entrepreneurship is largely male-dominated, with a quarter (27%) saying it's because ‘men are more business minded.’  

Susan Davies, Managing Director, Santander Business, commented: “It’s shocking that as we enter the 2020s some parents continue to believe that boys are somehow more naturally suited to business than girls.

“These findings clearly show that as a nation we need to do much more to encourage and support young women to become entrepreneurs. It’s vital to the UK’s success that we harness the huge potential of young women to drive economic growth and shape the country’s future through new business ideas.”

Santander’s research also revealed seven out of ten (70%) children claim they have never been encouraged to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice at school. Among those who have, there is a further gender disparity – with just 20% of girls saying they have been encouraged to become an entrepreneur in school (versus 24% of boys).

In a bid to support the next generation in considering running a business in the future, Santander has today launched a new guide to becoming an entrepreneur, including videos and tips from a range of female business owners. 

Olympic and three time World Champion, Santander ambassador and entrepreneur Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, said: “It’s very disappointing that despite the progress that’s been made on gender equality in recent years there is still such a stark gender divide when it comes to young people and entrepreneurship. That’s why I’m working with Santander to inspire more young women to think about starting their own business and support them with practical, real-world advice from successful female entrepreneurs. Launching a new business is extremely daunting, even for someone fortunate enough to have had a head start like me, so I know this kind of support will be really valuable to anyone thinking of taking the plunge.”

Among the small percentage of children who could name a female entrepreneur, Karen Brady and Deborah Meaden were the most recognised, highlighting the lack of visibility of more recently established female business owners.

Top Five Female Entrepreneurs named by children

1.    Karen Brady
2.    Deborah Meaden 
3.    JK Rowling
4.    Beyonce Knowles        
5.    Oprah Winfrey            

Last month Santander launched its largest ever programme to support aspiring female entrepreneurs – the ‘Women Business Leaders’ mentoring programme3 – connecting them with a successful business owning mentor. 

The annual Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, one of the UK’s largest entrepreneurial business pitching competitions for students and recent graduates, has supported a wealth of female entrepreneurial talent over the last nine years. Recent successful female entrepreneur winners and runners-up include: Lauren Bell, Cosi Care (Winner 2019); Lauren Leisk, Fodilicious (Winner 2018); Jenny Evans, Jenny Kate Designs (Winner 2017); Irene Breen, BellaMoon (Winner 2017); and Kalkidan Legesse, Sancho’s (Runner-Up 2017).


- Ends -

Notes to Editors

1 - Research undertaken by OnePoll on behalf of Santander UK in November 2019. The sample was 2,000 British parents and 2,000 British children (aged 11-18).
2 – Telegraph Means Business Campaign
3 - The Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme, part of its Breakthrough programme will specifically focus on mentoring women in SMEs to help their business grow and is powered by the social enterprise, Women Ahead. It is available for female founders of businesses with a turnover of up to £3 million which have been running for at least one year. The chosen mentees will be mentored by both men and women business leaders and is entirely funded by Santander. For more information visit https://www.santanderbreakthrough.co.uk/partnership/women-business-leaders-mentoring-programme 

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 December 2019, the bank had around 23,500 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. 

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of 2019, Banco Santander had EUR 1.05 trillion in total funds, 145 million customers, of which 21.6 million are loyal and 37 million are digital (52% of active customers), 12,000 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made underlying profit of EUR 8,252 million in 2019, an increase of 2% compared to the previous year.

About Jennis
Jessica Ennis-Hill established her new business Jennis in May 2019. The Jennis Fitness App boasts three different programmes. These include: Jennis Fitness for people who want elite-level training that fits into 30 minutes or less; Jennis Pregnancy – A strength and resistance programme that Jess followed throughout her two pregnancies that enabled her to come back strongly post birth; and Jennis Postnatal – a postnatal plan that Jess followed to help her get gradually back to fitness. For more information visit: https://www.jennisfitness.com

Media Enquiries
Leonora Burtenshaw T: 0207756 5533 M:07701004107 E: leonora.burtenshaw@santander.co.uk 

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