Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson
Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson Introduction As is evidenced by the material presented in the chapters throughout this book, women owned businesses are a growing international trend and the numbers have increased in almost every country in the last 10 years, accounting for between one quarter and one third of the total business population across the world (OECD, 2000). However, what is also plainly evident, is that oﬃcial statistics may well underestimate the true picture due to the deﬁnitions of small-business ownership used, which frequently serve to distort the statistical information available. For example, a European survey revealed that the number of women working independently or as small-business owners was in excess of 10 million more than the oﬃcial Eurostat ﬁgures (Allen, 1999). One reason for this may be that many small businesses owned by women are home-based and are not publicly recognized as independent enterprises (Bruni et al., 2004). Another trend revealed in the preceding chapters is that, while the majority of womenowned ﬁrms are small, services and retail still make up the largest share of women-owned businesses, women entrepreneurs are diversifying into diﬀerent types of businesses and industry sectors (NFBWO, 2003). This diversiﬁcation has been slow because of the general position of women in the workplace, with women being concentrated in low-paid, low status and low-skilled work (Shaw et al., 2001). Although women still run predominantly small service-based companies, there is a signiﬁcant growth in knowledge-based businesses owned by women...
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