Press release

Academic to help Government encourage and support more women into enterprise

Published on 17 May 2019

A University of Dundee academic will work with the Scottish Government as it attempts to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in Scotland

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Dr Norin Arshed, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University’s School of Business, has been appointed Independent Advisor to Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.

Dr Arshed will provide impartial advice on collaborative policy delivery to the Women in Enterprise Action Group and provide recommendations as to how the objectives set by Ministers can be delivered.

Despite recent evidence that the country is making improvements in terms of entrepreneurial activity, women in Scotland continue to face specific barriers when starting and growing a business and account for just 34% of total self-employment and majority-own only 19% of SMEs.

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to help shape policy and ultimately encourage more women into business,” said Dr Arshed. “What I want to see is a strong and consistent entrepreneurial ecosystem for supporting women into business. We have known the barriers facing women in business for many years but we have not made the inroads we hoped for yet.

“Women are still less likely than men to access finance and establish businesses. They are almost entirely absent from certain industries and are less likely to scale up businesses that they do start. We need to ensure women entrepreneurs have high quality support in Scotland for their businesses and they are able to access it.”

Dr Arshed’s appointment follows a recent paper she published that looked into why enterprise policy has struggled to increase the rates of small business ownership by women. She and her colleagues concluded that making an economic case for female entrepreneurship will do more to increase the number of women-owned businesses rather than treating it as a diversity issue, which has largely been the approach over the past 20 years.

Research suggests that the increased participation of women in entrepreneurship can play an important role in improving macroeconomic performance. Accordingly, governments have deployed a range of women-specific enterprise policies designed to foster beneficial economic and social outcomes. Whilst progress has been made, women still remain underrepresented in the small-to-medium sized business sector.

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP said, “Tackling the gender gap in enterprise and entrepreneurship is not just a moral imperative, it is an economic one – that is why I am delighted to welcome Dr Norin Arshed as the Scottish Government’s Independent Advisor on Women in Enterprise.

“Since the launch of our Women in Enterprise Framework, the proportion of women actively starting a business has risen significantly. At the same time the gender gap in people starting businesses has reduced in Scotland whilst increasing across the rest of the UK.

“Despite this progress, there is still much work to do and Dr Arshed’s wealth of experience and expertise will be crucial in helping us address this gap. I look forward to working with her as we move towards delivering on the Scottish Government’s Women in Enterprise Action Plan and Framework.”


Press Office, University of Dundee