A new independent review, led by Ana Stewart and co-authored by Mark Logan, aims “to identify ways to unlock untapped potential, close the gender gap and boost Scotland’s economy.”

The Pathways: A New Approach for Women in Entrepreneurship report, which was commissioned by The Scottish Government, aims to “to change how we think about the under-participation of women in entrepreneurship” while providing “concrete recommendations for how dramatically better participation rates can be achieved.”

The review shows that only 1 in 5 of Scotland’s entrepreneurs are women and as little as 2% of institutional investment goes to women-led companies in Scotland.

The 31 recommendations included in the report include important steps such as providing start-up training and support in a range of pop-up locations; clarifying existing access pathways into entrepreneurship; and improving access to start-up and growth finance. The report has been welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and has started a conversation within the Scottish business community.

Leah Hutcheon, Founder & CEO of Appointedd, was asked by Ana Stewart to provide evidence of her experience to be included in the report, and said: “I was delighted to feed into the review, and the interview with Ana Stewart was a reminder of how far we have come as a business.”

“The quote that has made it into the review is around an early experience I had when first starting up: I was advised in an investment meeting to take a male colleague to future meetings to make my tech business more ‘credible’. As a solo founder, I spent the next few days thinking of where I might pick up a man to do this. It was both funny and depressing in equal measure, but I was grateful to the person who advised this because it was really important that any odds were stacked in our favour in those early days while raising our first round of investment.”

“The challenge is to change the playing field to ensure that women can go out and raise investment as a solo founder, and ensure that they don’t need to find a male advisor to stand next to them to add credibility. I think we have come some way since my experience in 2011, but sadly nowhere near far enough, as still only 2% of investment raised in Scotland goes to female-founded companies.”

Reflecting on the wider report, Leah said: “Ana Stewart’s report offers invaluable reflections and recommendations for change on the challenges we face as female entrepreneurs. Since I started Appointedd, 12 years ago, I’ve faced many challenges that I am saddened to discover many other women in leadership roles are still facing.”

“As I run a tech company used in more than 167 countries and trusted by world leading brands, I have countless experiences of pushing and thriving against all odds. All entrepreneurs have to do this – building a high growth company is challenging for everyone, but it shouldn’t be even harder for 50% of founders.”

“I believe this report is an essential and exciting step to close the gender gap in Scottish tech and I hope the recommendations contained within it will be reviewed and implemented to ensure Scotland offers a fairer economy where women have equal opportunities to contribute to our country’s growth.”

Published on 23 February 2023