According to Startups UK, a mere 14% of small and medium enterprises are led by female entrepreneurs or a female management team, but the gender gap is rapidly closing. The Office of National Statistics in 2013 conducted a Labour Force Survey which revealed that more than 50% of the increase in self-employed enterprises in the UK, since the recession began in 2008, has been brought about by female entrepreneurs.
Women in Enterprise conducted an interesting study in 2013 which confirmed that there are almost 1.5 million self-employed women in the UK right now, an amazing increase of about 300,000. The same study reveals that women account for 17% of business owners and are less likely to abandon their businesses because of ‘business failure’ and more likely to decide to move on for ‘personal reasons.’ The study also noted that approximately 10% of the female population in the UK are thinking about starting up a business.
Women, without a doubt, are gradually developing an interest in the entrepreneurial world and they are proving to be good at it too. With all this in mind, why should female entrepreneurs in the UK make language learning one of their top career-focused priorities?
- Globalisation – this affects both men and women
Let’s begin by saying that globalisation is an issue which naturally affects both male and female entrepreneurs. Opportunities to work with foreign clients, to sell to foreign markets and to outsource work to foreign employees in other countries is growing by the day thanks to huge advances in technology and the power of the Internet for bringing foreign communities and economies that much closer. Entrepreneurs with foreign language skills are better prepared for the way in which business is developing worldwide.
- The lack of language skills in the UK is a national problem
Again, the lack of language skills in the UK is a national concern which affects both men and women. In 2013, William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, gave an interview with The Guardian stating his fears for the future of the UK in the world of politics. He focused on the lack of language skills amongst UK diplomats and the worrying decline of language course uptake at university level.
It seems Brits who have strong foreign language skills in 2014 are diamonds in the rough. Considering the constant decline of language skills across the UK at present, both male and female entrepreneurs would do well in focusing their time and talents on learning a language without delay.
However, if we take globalisation and falling figures of national language skills out of the equation, female entrepreneurs in particular are left with a number of other pertinent reasons why they should dedicate some of their professional time and attention to learning a second language. For example..
- Women love to travel
The number of women choosing to travel alone across the globe is on the rise. Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) has noted a significant increase in the number of women who book individual rooms for holiday-travel and business-travel related matters. A large proportion of these solo traveling females come from the US, China, Australia, the UK. In 2011 and 2012 alone, SLH recorded an unprecedented boom from bookings by lone traveling females, with a 53% increase in demand for single rooms.
CAP Strategic Research conducted a survey on female travelers in the UK and US which revealed “women represent the most important and fastest growing segment of the travel market, in terms of both leisure and business travel.” 48% of travel website users are female and 66% of women say that travel companies should try harder to sell to female travelers, as they would definitely benefit from an increase in sales.
We know that the number of female entrepreneurs is on the rise and we know that women love to travel alone. When we combine these two facts, it’s not difficult to see how globetrotting, female entrepreneurs could turn their love of travel into a series of lucrative business prospects with little difficulty. The only thing which might end up standing in their way would be a lack of foreign language skills.
- Women have extra amounts of an important language learning protein
– we are well prepared for language learning
FOXP2, discovered in 2001, is the first gene scientists have discovered to directly affect language and language skills. It’s thought that the FOXP2 protein may also be responsible for the regulation of motor neuron control in particular areas of the brain. These areas directly affect human ability to vocalize, sing and communicate via language. A number of studies shows that females have more amounts of this FOXP2 protein than their male counterparts, which is why 4-year girls have stronger language skills than 4-year old boys and why women tend to use three times more words in a day than men do.
Again, if the research into FOXP2 are true, and there are a number of scientific sources which support the idea, women are primed and ready for language learning.
So, ladies, let’s put those entrepreneurial skills to the test, pack our suitcases and make a real commitment to something which apparently comes naturally to us. All systems go for international business deals and language learning!
So do Mum’s the Boss readers speak foreign languages? Please leave a comment below, tell us what your first language is and what other languages you can speak.
Tracey Chandler represents Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide