Female founders in the UK receive dramatically less funding than their male counterparts. In 2021, despite unprecedented levels of capital raised within private markets, only 1% of venture capital funds went to all-female founded teams in comparison to 90% to all-male founded teams (CEE Report, 2021). This is a missed opportunity. Up to £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men (Rose Review, 2021).
One of the unique aspects of the Oxford MBA programme is the opportunity to undertake a Global Opportunities and Threats project (GOTO) with 4 members of your cohort. GOTO is an action-oriented project geared towards addressing one complex issue facing the world.
Our team decided to investigate the gender gap in funding between female and male entrepreneurs in the UK. As part of the project, we:
- undertook primary research interviewing an array of stakeholders cognisant of the funding ecosystem in the UK including finance allocators and researchers
- mapped the system to understand the intersectional nature of gender equality and the complex stakeholder environment
- analysed the existing solutions which are failing to address the deep-rooted structural power hierarchies preventing women from accessing and receiving funding
Our qualitative and quantitative research uncovered 3 key levers for change. Firstly, we must ensure that more women hold decision making positions in VC and PE firms and are thus responsible for the allocation of capital. Secondly, the UK Government needs to introduce bold, transformative policies such as equal statutory paid parental leave for men as well as women, freeing women from the societal expectation that they are the primary caregivers. Finally, and most importantly, the gender financing gap needs to be reframed as a missed opportunity. This is not just a problem for women but a problem for men, society and the economy more broadly. Investing in women is an investment in companies, communities and countries; women on average spend 90% of their income on their families while men only spend 30-40% (IMF, 2018).
Being able to develop your business, leadership and strategic skills is a component of any MBA program. However, projects such as GOTO are exclusive to the Oxford MBA and the program’s focus on impact. I believe that by analysing global opportunities and threats intrinsic to the business landscape we are more likely to become innovative leaders with the skills to drive profound systemic change.