Gender Stereotypes and Their Impact on Women Entrepreneurs

Survey report exploring the experiences of women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries, 2021

Gender Stereotypes & Their Impact on Women Entrepreneurs

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Published on the first day of the Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business Summit, which aims to explore and challenge the gender stereotypes holding women entrepreneurs back from success and equality, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s new report “Gender Stereotypes and Their Impact on Women Entrepreneurs” highlights and suggests ways to tackle the gender stereotypes that shape women’s journeys to and through entrepreneurship.

This report details analysis of online survey data from 221 women entrepreneurs in 42 low and middle income countries, gathered in July and August 2021. We find that gender stereotypes significantly shape women’s journeys to and through entrepreneurship by affecting their aspirations, sources of support, opportunities, access to resources, perceptions, and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.

It’s clear that women entrepreneurs are impacted by stereotypes, with 70% of women entrepreneurs surveyed saying that gender stereotypes have negatively affected their work as an entrepreneur. More than six in ten of those surveyed (61%) believe that gender stereotypes impact their business growth and almost half (49%) say they affect profitability.

Stereotypes start early, shape women’s journeys to entrepreneurship, and can have a lasting impact on aspirations, confidence and behaviour. Over half of the women entrepreneurs surveyed (56%) said that social approval or disapproval of different careers played a role in their choice of career. The majority of women entrepreneurs surveyed (70%) also reported knowing a woman entrepreneur when they were children, suggesting the powerful influence of role models on children and young women.

Experiences of gender stereotypes are widespread, with almost all (96%) of the women entrepreneurs surveyed saying they had directly experienced them in their lives. The diverse expression of gender stereotypes is also apparent, with one of the more commonly reported stereotypes being that almost half (49%) of respondents reporting that family members or friends have told them to focus more on family.


The initial insights here show that achieving gender equality in entrepreneurship involves dismantling the gender stereotypes that affect women entrepreneurs’ lives and businesses. To date, this issue hasn’t received the attention that is needed to create change. It requires long-term, collective action in multiple, intersecting areas and commitment from individuals and organisations alike who shape entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Take action now

  1. Increase your understanding of how gender stereotypes shape women’s lives, including entrepreneurship, economic participation, division of unpaid care work, and empowerment.
  2. Raise awareness about how gender stereotypes shape the realisation of rights and equal opportunities, such as those related to economic participation and entrepreneurship.  Campaign and advocate with others to deconstruct gender stereotypes and promote gender equality.
  3. Take concrete measures to prevent and eliminate gender stereotypes and their negative impacts, both in private and public spheres.

Watch our presentation

Helen McEachern, the Foundation’s CEO, presents the report’s findings, conclusions and recommendations in a 30 minute summary webinar as part of our Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business summit.