Women in metros often prefer corporate jobs over entrepreneurship: Survey

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While the number of female students in leading engineering institutes like the IITs has increased from a mere 5% about four years back to 16% now, this is not really translating into more women starting up companies, finds a new survey. In fact, going by current trends, India should have more than 200 unicorns (startups with at least $1 billion valuation) by 2025, many of them going public, but this growth story will be primarily led by men.

The report ‘State of Women Tech Entrepreneurship in India’ by Sheatwork, a knowledge hub for women entrepreneurs, in partnership with Techarc, technology analytics, research, and consultancy firm, finds that almost 48% of women in non-metros are eager to take up tech entrepreneurship as a career option vis-à-vis 23% in metros who’d like to pursue their own ventures.

The report, based on the responses of 2,000 women across India including women professionals, students, startup founders and business leaders, highlights that women in metros often prefer opting for corporate jobs as a convenient career choice.

One of the major barriers for women is access to capital – 58% of the respondents highlighted the difficulty of raising funds and gaining access to capital in comparison to their male counterparts. Amongst women in metros, 38% of the respondents felt that access to capital in metros is one of the major barriers to taking up entrepreneurship.

Women also say there is a lack of infrastructure – 73% of women in non-metros feel that non-availability of adequate infrastructure deters their move in taking up entrepreneurship, while 22% of women in metros feel that physical infrastructure is a problem for them .

Further, 67% of women in non-metros adjourn lack of mentorship as another crucial barrier in taking up entrepreneurship. 34% of women in metros also feel that mentorship is important and without a guiding light, it becomes difficult for them to shine.

Although women from non-metros are inclined towards starting off on their own, finding the right skill set in smaller cities hinders their progress. 48% of non-metro respondents have attributed lack of skilled and talented teams which often stops them from pursuing entrepreneurship in comparison to women from metros where 18% feel that finding the right talent isn’t a hindrance.

Finally, despite an increasingly educated population, limited access to relevant business and technical resources is a major impediment in scaling the venture, with 74% of respondents from non-metros attributing lack of technology as the primary challenge. 24% of women in metros also say that technology access is imperative for women entrepreneurs which can make or break their venture.

“Women shouldn’t merely be consumers of tech but be creators of tech-driven products/platforms. It is for all stakeholders including venture investors, mentors and society at large to ensure that the startup ecosystem, especially in the technology space, is rich with diversity – not just of ideas but even more women turning entrepreneurs to ensure all-round growth of the startup ecosystem,” said Ruby Sinha, founder, Sheatwork.

“It is the first time that India has more women than men on record as per the recent data released by the National Family and Health Survey. With this, the need for diversity at workplaces and in industries have become more important. In times to come, we’ll see that the tech sector will welcome women in leading roles where they stand as an icon of power and creativity at the same time,” said Faisal Kawoosa, chief analyst and founder, Techarc.

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