Study reveals women’s changing role in exports

GEM Report

11 November 2014

New figures on export trends have revealed a growing number of women business owners tapping into the export market.   

Research by academics at the University of Strathclyde and Aston University shows that two out of five women business owners now have customers overseas. 

The figure has more than doubled from 20 per cent to 43 per cent in more than a decade for established business owners, and 27 per cent to 42 per cent for new business owners. 

But the report also identifies a growing gender gap among significant exporters. The proportion of women business owners with a majority of their customers abroad has dropped by more than half since the recession began. 

The study, entitled ‘Exporting by Male and Female Entrepreneurs over the Business Cycle,’ - carried out by Professor Jonathan Levie, of Strathclyde Business School and Professor Mark Hart, of Aston Business School – shows that there has been no such drop among male entrepreneurs. 

Professor Levie said: “Far fewer women entrepreneurs now source most of their customers from overseas markets than they did before the recession. But this is not the case for men.” 

The academics say the decline in the proportion of female entrepreneurs involved in larger scale export activity are unclear. 

However Professor Mark Hart said it could be down to the fact that, in the downturn, women were not as willing as men to leave themselves open to as many risks overseas, such as currency fluctuations and the vagaries of the export market. 

Professor Hart said: “Further research is required to identify reasons for the gap in export intensity and what might be done about it. 

“The decline is particularly noticeable for those in the most export intensive businesses. There has been no such decline among males, and there was not this gender difference a decade ago.” 

The paper’s findings come from the detailed analysis of databases from the UK Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, (GEM), covering the major economic cycle of 2002 to 2013. 


Notes To Editors

A full copy of the paper ‘Exporting by Male and Female Entrepreneurs over the Business Cycle’ can be found at 

About the Authors 

Professor Mark Hart 

Mark Hart is Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School and has dedicated over 35 years to researching and teaching in the area of SMEs and entrepreneurship.

A highly respected international scholar, Professor Hart, has held the Chair in Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston University since 2008.   He is also currently the Programme Director and Academic Lead on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme in the Midlands and is Deputy Director of the national Enterprise Research Centre ( Its mission is to understand the drivers of small business growth. 

He also co-directs GEM in the UK with Professor Jonathan Levie. 

Professor Hart received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in April this year (2014) for his ground-breaking work in enterprise research, policy and practice. 

Professor Jonathan Levie

Jonathan Levie is a Professor in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde, where he is Director of Knowledge Exchange. He has held research and teaching posts at the London Business School, Babson College (US), INSEAD (France) and University College, Cork (Ireland). 

Professor Levie was associate co-ordinator of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in its founding year and has served as an elected member of the board of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association (GERA). He is currently a member of GERA’s Research and Innovation Committee and recently project managed a major grant from the EC DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion for the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association. 

He also co-directs GEM in the UK with Professor Mark Hart, of Aston Business School, and is a co-investigator at the UK’s Enterprise Research Centre, where he is engaged in research on ambition and venture growth. 

Press release prepared by Shepherd PR. 

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