The structure and nature of entrepreneurial activities not only vary across countries or over time, but gender also plays a determining role in such activities (Acs et al., 2011).
Demographically, Switzerland has an equal proportion of men and women in the 15-64 age groups, which is also the case in most of the other nations in the world (CIA World Fact Book, 2012). However, as a global trend, the number of females engaged in entrepreneurial activity is in most countries historically lower than for their male counterparts, which may well be explained by various social, cultural, or economic factors. In some countries, the number of males participating in entrepreneurial activities can be dramatically higher and the male preponderance is obvious. Pakistan is one such country; there, the number of male entrepreneurs is as much as ten times higher than that of their female counterparts. For example, Rossi (2009) argues that this male preponderance in entrepreneurship is accounted for by the lack of specific business skills, the less extensive social network, and perhaps the lack of identification patterns among women (Rossi, 2009). It can be argued, therefore, that addressing these issues should help increase the proportion of female entrepreneurs.
There also exist a few ‘outlier’ nations where exactly the opposite scenario can be observed, that is, where female entrepreneurs outnumber male entrepreneurs; these
include a couple of countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Singapore. As well as these extreme cases, however, there are economies where the female and male ratio of early-stage entrepreneurial activity is balanced. Female and male numbers that remain in equilibrium may sound like a desirable scenario since women’s entrepreneurship brings about additional contribution to economic growth, such as job creation and the increased GDP that the global economy is in urgent need of (OECD Report, 2004). This category also includes Switzerland, which is very good news for this innovation-driven economy. Seven
other economies together with Switzerland enjoy the equal participation of men and women in entrepreneurship (others being Panama, Venezuela, Jamaica, Guatemala, Brazil,
Thailand, and Singapore). Actually, in terms of early-stage entrepreneurial activity, Switzerland enjoys one of the best positions (meaning the equalized female-to-male ratio)
when compared with other innovation-driven economies such as those in the Scandinavian countries or the French, German, and even U.S. economies. Switzerland is beaten only by Singapore in this class.
Even better news is that Switzerland shows strong potential to bridge the existing gender gap in entrepreneurial activities. Although progress toward closing the gender gap in Switzerland is comparatively lower within its own class (i.e., the innovation-driven economies), it is hoped that facilitating female entrepreneurship and the existence of strong women entrepreneurs will assist in closing the gender gap and reaching the levels seen in Scandinavian countries (WEF Report, 2011; GEM Global Report, 2011). A higher level can be achieved in Switzerland if certain issues are addressed, such as increasing social services, opportunities, and the acceptance and encouragement of female entrepreneurship.
Male and Female Early-Stage
Entrepreneurial Activity 2011,
by Country and Phase of
R. Baldegger, S. Alberton, F. Hacklin, A. Brülhart, A. Huber and O. Saglam (2012)
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2011 — Report on Switzerland, Fribourg