The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today published its ‘Report on Key Issues for female entrepreneurs in Ireland and for their participation in the tech sector.’
The Report, authored by Rapporteur, Senator Mary White, responds to the increasing recognition that has been given in recent years to the potential benefits of specific measures and initiatives aimed at encouraging women to become entrepreneurs.
Some of the report’s recommendations include:
- The Committee recommends that the Government should consider extending the qualifying terms for maternity benefit to female entrepreneurs as currently exist for female employees, namely, 39 weeks contributions and not 52 weeks; and 6 weeks notice rather than 12 weeks.
- As a positive discrimination measure, the Committee recommends that a specific Female Seed and Early-Stage Seed Capital Fund should be initiated by Enterprise Ireland and the management of the Fund should be predominantly by women. Such funds invest between €100,000 and €600,000 in emerging companies so that a total fund of €25 million could support about 50 new female-led companies over a 5 year period.
- The Committee recommends that a more powerful, sustained and clear campaign to inform parents, teachers and girls of the intrinsic value and career benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
Committee Chair, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, TD, said: “Supporting women entrepreneurs is a key priority of the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. We firmly believe that the contribution made by women entrepreneurs needs to be recognised and further supported in order to grow even more. Today’s Report makes 12 recommendations as to how we can continue to encourage women to step into the entrepreneurial space, and in particular, the science and tech industries.”
“As a Committee, we have identified access to finance and maternity leave conditions, as well as limited access to networking opportunities for women as just two of the issues facing female entrepreneurs. As Chairperson of the Joint Committee, I would like to thank all of those who appeared before us during our hearings and also, Senator Mary White for her work in bringing this Report to fruition.”
Report Rapporteur, Senator Mary White, said: “While much progress has been made in creating a more positive climate for women entrepreneurs, the culture of business remains predominantly male-dominated. Similarly, as women continue to make strides in areas such as medicine and law, in the business and STEM industries, there still exists a significant gender imbalance. Our Report shows that an unconscious bias still prevails which designates business and STEM as being typically ‘male’ fields. Our Report challenges that mind-set, as it acknowledges the work being done by many women in these fields.”
“The Report aims to provide practical recommendations towards addressing the gender imbalance that exists in entrepreneurship, STEM and technological industries. It is my hope that the Government will consider carefully the recommendations made in this Report when they are developing future policy in this area.”