According to the report women accounted for just 10 per cent of the world billionaires in Forbes’ 2013 list because of “discrimination” in some parts of the world where women were still pushed towards established female occupations. Drawing on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the European Union Labour Force Survey, Wealthmonitor concluded that women mostly worked in lower-paid ‘service based industries’ such as administration and retail, and not in the higher-paid fields of finance, IT and engineering.
The same applied to the gap between male and female entrepreneurs with only in a select few countries, such as Singapore and Thailand, where more women were creating new businesses than men.
Moreover those countries cited as leading the fostering of female entrepreneurship were the US, Australia, Germany, France and Mexico, where cultural norms were reported to be more supportive of female entrepreneurship, education and access to financial capital.
Afi Ofori, managing director and founder of Zars Media, a service dedicated to highlighting female leadership contributions, was optimistic that restrictive cultural norms that favour men were steadily becoming a thing of the past. She said: “It is changing quite a lot. The financial service and media industries are still male dominated. However over the years more women are going into those sectors.”
Ms Ofori was also positive that aspiring female entrepreneurs were not being neglected by financial institutions in the UK. She added: “I have no doubt that the banks are aware that a growing part of the UK’s wealth is controlled by women. As a growing number of women in the UK enter the workforce, the banks have an opportunity to design products that are attractive to women.”
One major issue that she said still held women back, however, was the responsibility of having children. A lot of women in the UK often put family commitments before career choices, which was why Ms Ofori has urged employers and nurseries to become more innovative in supporting mothers with young children.
Sabina Andersson, a research analyst for Wealthmonitor, agreed that the expectation for women to stay home and look after the kids is what has held back countries such as the UK from promoting greater numbers of wealthy females.
In her assessment of different country attitudes and how it affects the wealth of women, she said that Scandinavia in particular stood out as leading the way.