Pathways: A new approach for women in entrepreneurship

An independent review into women in entrepreneurship in Scotland, authored by Ana Stewart and Mark Logan. Based on thorough data analysis and stakeholder engagement the report's recommendations seek to address the root causes of female under-participation in entrepreneurship.

09. Lack of consistent data on under-participation

The ability to access complete and accurate data is critical to any analysis, whilst the creation of on-going progress tracking KPIs must also be founded on resilient and robust information, reflective of the dynamic environment or ecosystem that is being measured. It's also important to gather information from other ecosystems to enable us to measure progress against similar programmes in other domains.

However, currently in Scotland there is a striking lack of dynamic trend data on entrepreneurial participation rates, and almost no readily available data disaggregated by gender and ethnicity. This gender data gap is also prevalent in many other economies and industries[93]. and the data void has been identified in other reports concerning women in entrepreneurship[94].

Certainly, impressive point-in-time reviews have been conducted[95], but the country lacks a centralised, aggregated database which enables on-going interrogation and analysis of developing participation trends. Ultimately, this makes it impossible to measure the progress or efficacy of any related funded programmes and initiatives designed to drive both diversity and inclusion or to transform wider entrepreneurship participation and growth.

An important contributing factor to this deficiency is the lack of a specific obligation on government or other agencies and private sector stakeholders to make available standardised gender-disaggregated and ethnicity-disaggregated data regarding recruitment, investment and entrepreneurial participation.

To mitigate this in the short term, in a collaboration between this report programme, the data specialist mnAI, and the University of Strathclyde, we carried out the most detailed data analysis yet conducted of Scotland's entrepreneurial sector, dimensioned by gender and ethnicity. This allowed us to carry out a robust analysis of entrepreneurial participation at the current point in time. A summary of these results can be found in Appendix A[96].

However, a more permanent and continuous solution is essential to measuring the results of the implementation of most of the recommendations in this report.

Therefore, we recommend that a common, centralised database be made accessible to stakeholders within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, combining both public and private sector entrepreneurship/start-up statistics. The platform should be capable of disaggregating data, at least by gender and ethnicity dimensions. This platform could also include funding characteristics and more sophisticated intersectionality characteristics if appropriate. It is said that "what gets measured gets done", and we hope and expect that this data will serve to improve understanding of the nation's wider entrepreneurial ecosystem trends and landscape, besides supporting and driving more diverse participation.

Here, the collaboration across public and private sector participants will be critical to its creation and to maintaining its on-going value into the future. It could also serve as a benchmark for all stakeholders to monitor their progress against performance criteria.

"Having consistent disaggregated data such as gender and ethnicity that is reflective of the entire Scottish entrepreneurial landscape, would really help us all in implementing effective programs aimed at increasing participation in these under-represented groups." - Kerry Sharp, Director, Entrepreneurship & Investment, Scottish Enterprise

The government should make it compulsory that any applicable entrepreneurial organisations receiving financial assistance and those in co-investment arrangements involving public money should make anonymised data available to this platform, such data being dependent on the nature of the activity involved. The data criteria should be defined within the platform, enabling participating organisations to capture and track data in a standardised format.

For example, investment organisations should be required to provide data relating to anonymised partner and investment staff demographics and the demographics of those start-ups receiving investment from the organisation, where such investment was part of a co-investment operation with the government or one of its agencies. This type of approach is not new, and has been recommended by the investment community previously[97].

The government should publish an annual analysis of entrepreneurship participation trends, using data from this platform. This process should be integrated into the government's Wellbeing Economy Monitor reporting cycle[98].

The above proposals are presented as specific recommendations in Chapter 10.



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