Breaking down barriers this IWD

Did you know that girls are 10x more likely to believe their gender will put them at a disadvantage to becoming a boss compared to boys?

We’ve been working with National Women’s Enterprise Week (NWEW) for two years on a pro-bono basis. Launched by Alison Cork MBE and created in partnership with The British Library Business and IP Centre National Network, it’s an initiative that really speaks to our core as it looks to empower and support female entrepreneurship.

2024’s NWEW – taking place June 17th to June 21st – is set to be bigger and better than ever, and we’ve played a large part in making that a reality. Phase one – which launched on International Women’s Day (IWD) – has been a huge, multi-department effort. We’ve built, designed and written copy for its website, designed a new logo, managed comms with 10 Downing Street and the British Library, written a digital strategy, crafted social media posts, devised a survey, analysed the data, written and sold in the press release with that data…the list goes on!

The survey was unique in that we polled girls and boys aged 14 to 18 about their ambitions and sentiments regarding being a boss or owning their own company. This survey had more than just a purpose for being used within our press release – it helped us deliver a message.

The findings showed:

  • Nearly seven in ten young people would rather be their own boss than work for someone else (boys – 70%; girls – 66%). Yet girls (51%) are more likely to say that becoming a boss or owning their own business sounds stressful or that they are not confident enough (40%), in comparison to boys (34%)
  • Girls are ten times more likely to think their gender will put them at a disadvantage in becoming a boss
  • Over half believe bosses are mostly male

Getting decision-makers involved

It was also thrilling to see Akshata Murty, herself an entrepreneur, announced as NWEW’s Lead Judge and Mentor. As for our part in this, we collaborated with 10 Downing Street in the creation of a special IWD ‘Lessons at 10’ event, bringing together teenage girls for a “speed mentoring” session with a range of female entrepreneurs and female heads of businesses behind the iconic black door. The event was hosted on IWD and involved NWEW founder Alison as a mentor – and had Akshata use our data in her opening speech.

Akshata said: “It’s wonderful to see research highlighting the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit of young people in the UK. However, there is clearly work to be done to support young women, who perceive the challenges to be greater for them than their male friends and counterparts.

There are incredible female entrepreneurs and business leaders in this country. I’m very pleased that Lessons at 10 will provide an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to meet and learn from such a wide range of role models. I am in no doubt that these impressive women, these pioneers, will break down barriers and inspire the next generation.”

How you can get involved

The release also announced applications opening for NWEW’s Women’s Launch Lab (WLL) incubator program, which runs throughout the week itself. WLL provides female entrepreneurs with invaluable training, mentorship and cash prizes. Spanning across five regions in the UK, there are 10 free spaces available across two categories – start-up and scale-up – with the winner of each category earning £5,000.

Of course, leading the judging panel is none other than Akshata Murty, and if you’re interested in joining, sign up here. Applications close on 30th April 2024 at midnight.