Look in the mirror - a more equal society increases entrepreneurship

In a global comparison, Finland is a fairly equal society by all measures, and this is something to be proud of. In general, the labor force between the ages of 20 and 64 is relatively equal: it is divided into 48% women, 52% men, while 49% women and 51% men are among the entire population of this age.
Päivi Lohikoski ja Pauliina Björk

However, when you look at the gender equality in entrepreneurship, there seems to be a lot of room for improvement. In the latest GEM report (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) about Finnish entrepreneurship, 2,000 Finns were interviewed regarding entrepreneurship themes. Finland has the 16th best entrepreneurship conditions for women compared to comparison countries, but the fear of failure prevents becoming an entrepreneur. Women also felt that they do not have as good knowledge and skills as male entrepreneurs.

Statistics show that the majority of entrepreneurs in Finland are men, as only a third of entrepreneurs are women. Only 20% of employer entrepreneurs are women. Growth orientation is not as common in women as it is in men.

Fair play does not necessarily arise by itself in any area of life. That's why game rules and guidance are needed. For the sake of fair play, it is worth making an effort to remove structural barriers and also reflect attitudes. Entrepreneurship professor Ulla Hytti has said in a recent MY Studio podcast that even her young students stereotypically think that an entrepreneur is a middle-aged man. When students think about their own options, few women choose the career of an entrepreneur. Although the media highlights successful female entrepreneurs, it may be that there are still too few role models.

Diversity is wealth everywhere. People of different ages, representatives of different genders and different personalities from different cultural backgrounds prevent the creation of an inner world and cliques in workplaces. At best, different views can create conflicts that renew, question the old, and at the same time build a culture where new innovations are born.

Finland was the first country in the world to grant women full political rights as early as 1906. In 2022, almost 50% of MPs and 12 of the government's 19 ministers will be women. Would the next task be to be a model country for entrepreneurship for women and men?

The University of Oulu has a national task set by the Ministry of Education and Culture in promoting micro-entrepreneurship and it is implemented through entrepreneurship research and online training. Online trainings open to everyone support versatile entrepreneurial skills and strengthen competitiveness. In addition, the threshold to start a company lowers and the understanding of entrepreneurship, its prerequisites and skills needs deepens. The goal is to strengthen entrepreneurial skills, the courage to try and the readiness to succeed as an entrepreneur through continuous learning.

In addition, everyone should think critically about whether they let stereotypes guide their own decisions or whether they act equally, taking care to treat people equally regardless of gender, age and other factors.


Päivi Lohikoski, PhD, Head of Training, Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu
Pauliina Björk, M.Sc. (Tech)., M. Phil., Project Researcher, Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu