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Statistics in more details

Summary: Gender and Business and Enterprise

  • In 2016, the majority of small to medium-sized enterprise employers were owned by men, or led by a management team with a majority of men. Around 19% of Scottish small to medium-sized enterprise employers were majority-led by women in 2016. Around 42% of small to medium-sized enterprise employers had at least 50% female leadership.

SME Employer Leadership in Scotland by Gender, 2016

Majority-led by women




At least 50 per cent female leadership (majority-led by women & equally led)



Source: Small Business Survey Scotland 2016


Male and Female Self-Employment Rates, 2007-2016

  • Out of the 327,200 self-employed people in Scotland 112,900 were women (35%) while 214,400 were men (65%).  Female self-employment has increased over recent years, from 76,000 in 2007 to 112,900 in 2016, representing a rise of 49%. Although male self-employment also experienced a rise over the same time period, it was significantly smaller at 14%.

  • In Scotland, the female self-employment rate (self-employed as a proportion of those in employment) was 9% in 2016 – lower than the male self-employment rate at 16%, but an increase of around 3 percentage points since 2007. The male self-employment rate increased by around 2 percentages point over the same period.
  • There are more self-employed men than self-employed women in all broad industrial sectors, with the exception of ‘Public Administration, Education and Health’ (in 2016, women made up 67% of the self-employed workforce in the sector) and ‘Other services[1]’ (in 2016, women made up 61% of the self-employed workforce in the sector).  Around 48% of all self-employed women work in these two sectors alone – compared to 14% of self-employed men.
  • In 2016, the female self-employment rate was lower in Scotland (at 9%), than in the UK as a whole (at 11%).The UK figure is particularly influenced by comparatively high rates in London and the south of England.The gap between female and male self-employment rates is narrower in Scotland (9% v 16% - gap of around 7 percentage points) compared to that for the UK as a whole (19% v 11% - gap of around 9 percentage points).

Source: Annual Population Survey (January to December)


Useful Links

Gender Page

Business and Enterprise Page


[1] Industry sectors are defined using Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2007 codes. ‘Other services’ includes the following SIC 2007 sections: ‘R - Arts, entertainment & recreation’ and ‘S - Other service activities’ which includes, for example, activities of religious organisations, repair of computers and hairdressing and other beauty treatment. More information on SIC 2007 codes is available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/current-standard-classifications/standard-industrial-classification/index.html

Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

Information in this section will be updated with relevant publications and outputs into the needs and experiences of people with characteristics protected by equality legislation for the policy area Business and Enterprise.

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Gender evidence review (2013) - a comprehensive review of the available evidence relating to gender equality, across the policy areas.

Small Business Survey Scotland Reports

Statistics from the Annual Population Survey for year to December 2016

Businesses in Scotland 2017



Annual Population Survey microdata is available (through a ‘special licence’ scheme) from the UK Data Archive.

External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government website by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this website.

UK Small Business Survey Reports

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde



Business and Enterprise