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The Ego Gap: More Women Launching Businesses Than Ever, but It’s Still Men Going for Awards 

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Using data from the past three years of applications, Startups.co.uk analysed entries to its Startups 100 Index and discovered that, despite record numbers (GoDaddy seeing an 11% surge in women-led businesses between 2022-2023) of women entrepreneurs starting businesses in the UK, the number of women applying to business awards is still less than half the number of men.

Businesses with a woman founder make up just 23.5% of business award applications, which is half the number of applicants with founders who are men (60%).

Over the last few years, the number of women-founded businesses has risen dramatically. In part, this is due to the growth of remote working, which has made starting a business more accessible, as well as cheaper, for budding entrepreneurs.

But while the number of women-led businesses rises, industry award shortlists continue to be dominated by businesses led by men. Between 2021 and 2023, the number of women applying to be featured on the Startups 100 Index grew by only 3%. This is a trend Startups.co.uk is dubbing ‘The Ego Gap’ – where successful women founders are less likely to put themselves and their ventures forward for awards and recognition than their male counterparts.

Helena Young, lead writer at Startups.co.uk says: “With more and more women-founded businesses being established every year, this data suggests that it is perhaps a lack of self-belief, not lack of existing businesses, preventing women from applying to business awards. 

“However, from our results, their fears are unjustified. In fact, despite just 25% of women-led firms applying to the Startups 100 Index this year, a considerably higher proportion (33%) made it into the top 100 thanks to their impressive business ideas and growth stories.” 

The Startups 100 is the longest-running UK list of new and disruptive businesses with previous listees including Deliveroo, Monzo and Bulb. This year, Startups.co.uk is appealing to more women founders to put themselves forward for the index so that the list can better reflect the actual landscape of innovative new businesses in the UK. 

Young continues: “We’ve seen amazing success from previous female-founded businesses in the list and, ironically, applying to business awards could be the best way for women entrepreneurs to boost their credibility and confidence within the market.

“The growth in women-founded businesses in the UK is hugely exciting. Now, we want more women entrepreneurs to put themselves forward for the index so we can help to bolster and grow their brand.”

With a more inclusive judging process than ever, Startups.co.uk aims to use this year’s index to celebrate the business owners with the most growth potential – not just the biggest cheque. Plus, determined to remove any barriers to success, the Startups 100 continues to be completely free to enter. 

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