A study of the conditions for women’s entrepreneurship in the Estonian Entrepreneurial environment

The backgrounds of the women were very different (turnover of the companies, experience and age of entrepreneurs, branch, etc). For the methodology, a qualitative method with semi-structured interviews were used. All interviews were recorded and documented. In addition, data from the Statistical Office, results from studies carried out by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and other various studies that examine women’s entrepreneurship in Estonia were used. The methodology was framed by the project partner: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

The study showed that the question of gender equality is not very important for Estonian female entrepreneurs as opportunities for starting up own business are felt to be the same for everyone, regardless of their gender.

One of the reasons for this perceived attitude is that not a particular sex but rather independence, activity, desire and social skills are required for an entrepreneur to be successful. Basically, it’s an entrepreneur him/herself who can create attractive conditions for business. In rural areas there are many female entrepreneurs and the share of male labour is considerably higher only in agriculture and construction.

The educational level of Estonian women in rural areas is higher than men, but their economic activity is still lower. Female share in entrepreneurship is estimated to one third of all entrepreneurs.

According to the study one of the incentives for starting up an enterprise is often dissatisfaction with a former job or time management. The interviewed women declared a wish to control their own time, determine their own conditions for activities and/or be free in their decisions.

The share of activity fields which have traditionally been considered feminine is high among retailing, training and consultation services, beauty treatment services, healthcare, accommodation, catering and tourism.

In Estonia activities of enterprises that involve women entrepreneurs are more often oriented towards the domestic market; women entrepreneurs are rarely involved in import and export. Estonian women entrepreneurs are oriented towards cooperation if they can gain something out of it but won’t consider being a member of a network without gaining anything because of lack of time.

Of the 23 interviewees, only three women entrepreneurs had experienced discrimination or seen it from the side.

As a conclusion of this study Anneli underlined that no considerable gender inequality is perceived in the Estonian entrepreneurial environment by the interviewees. However it exists on a structural level.


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