A female entrepreneur stands in an empty boardroom

The average turnover of female-led companies is 58 per cent lower than male-led firms, a new study shows.

Female-owned companies that had a managed a seven figure turnover averaged £1.3million, whereas male-owned businesses averaged £3.1million.

The findings have been published by The Gender Index, an online tracking tool of 4.4 million active UK companies, providing the first ever in-depth and freely available snapshot of female-owned firms.

Powered by AI data provider mnAI, the Gender Index showed that there are more females starting companies than ever before - with 145,200 new companies last year.

But nationally, active female-led business make up just 16.8 per cent of all UK companies.

Female-led companies disproportionately generate less investment, compared to male-owned companies.

Of the 1.3 million UK investments that were identified, 66.1% went to male-led firms whereas female-led companies obtained nearly six times less investments (11.9%).

Moreover, the disparity in the rate of growth of companies run by males and females shows that even female-owned companies hitting seven-figure turnover still lag significantly behind that of their male counterparts.

Jill Pay, chairman of The Gender Index said: “Mapping the impact that female-founded companies have on the UK economy, uncovering their potential and supporting their growth, is paramount to a more inclusive, diverse and stronger economy, yet until now, the ability to do so has remained out of reach.

“We now have the ability to map every company in every country, region, LEP and local authority across the UK, by sector, in real-time. By making this information public, our ambition is to ensure that greater support is provided to female founded companies, helping to accelerate and stimulate fiscal and corporate growth.”

The devolved nations of Scotland and Wales have the highest percentage of high growth female-led companies at 12%, compared to 8.5% in the rest of the UK.

John Cushing, CEO of mnAI said: “The creation of The Gender Index marks a significant milestone in the support provided to female business owners, and we’re delighted to collaborate on this truly historic initiative.

“Its ultimate mission is to help create a more equal future by providing a clear and accurate picture of what’s going on across the UK business landscape. Revealing the disparity between male and female led businesses, highlighting the challenges, and identifying the opportunities.”

The Gender Index is supported by The Enterprise Research Centre, based at Warwick Business School.

Stephen Roper, Professor of Enterprise at WBS and director of the ERC, has been part of the steering group for the project as well as authoring sections of the new report.

He said: "This is the first comprehensive data on women-owned firms across the UK. The new Gender Index represents a step change in our understanding of the UK business landscape and the specific challenges faced by many women entrepreneurs."

Building networks to help give women the best chance to succeed is something that Lynne Parker knows very well in her role as founder and CEO of Funny Women, a leading non-for-profit company that empowers women to do business with humour.

Lynne said: “We are all being urged to 'break the bias' this year for International Women’s Day and information and data is really important to back up why these biases still exist. Not just bias in respect of gender, culture, race and ability - also age and class which are often forgotten.”

To find out more about The Gender Index click here. Learn more about the Enterprise Research Centre here.