Research suggests that, proportionally, the likelihood of an employed woman being a business owner increases with age. In Australia, more than two in five women business operators are aged 40-54.
Women are often driven by different motivations and imperatives than men when it comes to setting up their own businesses. They report that lack of promotion opportunities and flexibility in the workplace often impact on their decisions. For older women, bias and ageist stereotypes in their workplaces can lead to early redundancy, which leaves some with no option but to start their own businesses to remain employed.
The Australian Human Rights Commission reports that older women are more likely than older men to be perceived as having outdated skills, being too slow to learn new things or as someone who would deliver an unsatisfactory job. They are also more likely to feel the impact of an ageing appearance than men.
These women still have so much to offer and many years of productive life ahead of them. Given they also generally have about 47 percent less superannuation than men, the need to remain in the workforce is often a financial imperative.
However, setting a business comes with its own set of problems. A major issue for women entrepreneurs and women business owners generally is access to finance and support to establish businesses. While in Australia, women invest a greater amount than men (approximately 1.3 times more), they do so in smaller numbers. Consequently, investment remains a considerable barrier to the women’s entrepreneurship.
Two problems are highlighted here. One is the issue of ageism and bias toward older women in the workforce which can lead to early redundancy and the other is support for women to establish businesses of their own so they can stay connected to the workforce.
War on Wasted Talent believes that options are important for women, and we advocate for an age-diverse workforce. We highlight the myths and stereotypes that impact on older workers and support them in navigating employment. We are also building a community of experienced professionals who can support one another in finding great work and starting businesses of their own.
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