#LetsTalkMindset: We’ve all seen the headlines about missed exams, missed lectures and joblessness, and we can take from this that the pandemic has been disproportionately difficult for young people. 

For women in particular, between March 2020 and January 2021, there was a nine per cent increase in those unemployed aged 16-24, equating to 20,000 young, promising women without a job.   

While there are set to be challenging times ahead for Generation Z women, there are solutions out there that we as a society, have a responsibility to consider to help them get back on their feet.

According to The Alison Rose Review, only one in three of the millions of entrepreneurs in the UK are women. This is a gender gap that equates to one million missing businesses and the prize for addressing this could be a £250 billion contribution to the UK economy. 

We don’t yet understand the full economic implications of COVID, but we do know that it will have a huge impact to the UK. Therefore as a nation, we have an imperative to explore the untapped economic potential of female entrepreneurship in Generation Z.

But how can we encourage more women into entrepreneurship and address the barriers that stop them in their tracks from starting a business?

In a recent event to launch our Future Female Founders report tackling this very issue, we featured a number of women who were at the top of their field, including entrepreneur and BBC Dragon Sara Davies MBE and Former Secretary of State Rt Hon Justine Greening.

Sara mentioned that the biggest challenge for women standing in their way, will be themselves. Boys, whether they naturally have that mindset or they have it instilled into them, have it a little bit easier. Women are taught to be a little bit more cautious.

Justine remarked that it's one of the biggest things that can rebuild our global economy.  If half of your population is locked out from playing their full role then you're not going to succeed. That's why this matters so much. It's not just about individuals having opportunity, it's about the wider impact for our communities.  

Shifting the dial for an entire generation takes cross-sector collaboration to find a solution, as well as a clear minded review of where these barriers are coming from.

One such solution is applied learning and connecting existing subjects in the primary and secondary curriculum to real life work skills in the classroom.  We’re working with employers, educators and policy makers to share what’s working well and do more to increase this. 

Another is creating more relatable female role models in enterprise so girls and young women can see that it is possible to succeed, and it is a viable career for women.  

What’s clear though is that this is something that we need to get to grips with  as a society - whether it’s encouraging positive role models like Sara Davies or business providing more entrepreneurial opportunities for young women.

Through our work with Young Enterprise, we’ve seen first hand the exceptional things that girls can do, and know that with a little encouragement we can increase the number of young women who pursue enterprise as part of their plans.  We owe it to them, and all of our futures, to begin introducing these opportunities  from a much younger age. 

Sharon Davies, CEO of Young Enterprise

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