As more women bend the gender stereotypes and forge a career for themselves in male-dominated places, some cities are becoming more welcoming than others for these women. No two cities are created entirely alike, and one may have an edge over the other in a specific field that will allow female entrepreneurs to flourish and achieve optimal support, success, and networking.
Dell commissioned the Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities) to assess and compare cities around the world, in terms of their ability to attract and foster high impact women entrepreneurs. The cities are ranked by two pillars, which are further divided into five sub-pillars:
In the top ten cities, six are in the United States, two are in Europe, one is in Canada and one in Asia (no prizes for guessing which city this is!) So where did Singapore rank in the annual WE Cities report? Let’s take a closer look at the ten best cities for female entrepreneurs.
The seaport city of Seattle comes in at 10th place overall, ranking 6th place in Markets and 4th for Market policy. This means that local policies in Seattle work in the favor of female entrepreneurs and help to level the playing field. There many city-level organizations specifically for businesswomen and female entrepreneurs, which help them with everything from education, networking, policy advocacy to supplier development. However, Seattle’s high average monthly cost of prepaid mobile tariffs and internet is a mild barrier to entry and can be further worked upon.
Toronto fell to ninth place overall, compared to its last year rating of sixth place. Although the city ranks pretty high in Culture coming in at 3rd place, its lowest-ranking pillar is Markets, mainly due to the smaller market size. And while women in Toronto are generally well educated, Toronto can improve by increasing its female faculty at business schools and providing more business training for women.
Coming in at number eight overall, Singapore is the top city for female entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific. Ranking at 5th place in Culture, there are many networking groups and city events for businesswomen here, and we also have the policies and customs to help female entrepreneurs succeed. However, the report points out that with less than 10% of women representing company boards, female leadership is limited, and we should also further address the issues of work-life balance for female employees and entrepreneurs.
Ranking 1st for Talent, Washington D.C. tops the list for Women’s Skills & Experience. This means that there is a large pool of women with business management skills and entrepreneurial aspirations, but also a labor force with the skills and education necessary to support a female entrepreneur. This plays a crucial part in Washington excelling in the Operational Environment foundational pillar. However, it doesn’t do so well in Technology, due to its relatively high average monthly cost of internet.
6. Los Angeles
The City of Angels ranks at 5th place in the Capital and Funding pillar, with a high percentage of Venture Capital funds going to female entrepreneurs. The city also shows strength in funding for businesses with female founders. However, the high costs of living and business taxes will continue to be an impediment to growth, thus giving L.A. a low score in Market Costs.
One of the fastest-growing and richest city in Sweden, its 2nd place ranking in Enabling Environments tells us that Stockholm has become a welcoming spot for female entrepreneurs. It is home to many organizations, such as the Professional Women’s Network, a federation of over 24 professional networks that promotes equal opportunities and gender-balanced leadership. However, the city lacks in terms of funding.
Boston has long been at the forefront of tech entrepreneurship and ranks 4th place the Operating Environment pillar. There is a marked presence of major tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google and it ranks especially high in the Talent category, mainly because it is home to prestigious universities such as Harvard University and MIT. These institutions also foster programs with female entrepreneurs in mind, but getting VC funds is a major obstacle as the majority of VC firms are run by men.
London’s exceptional ranking is partly due to the positive echoes of the female entrepreneurs operating in this city. The capital in Europe for startup opportunities, London ranks pretty high across the board. There is a strong population of female entrepreneurs, and they have more access to business development opportunities due to their proximity to Fortune 500 businesses. The vast talent pool also has it that businesswomen can easily recruit qualified staff, but the high operating costs and cost of living in London are consistent issues that the women entrepreneurs have raised up.
2. The Bay Area
Encompassing the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, the Bay Area comes out top dog in Capital, as there are more VC investment firms here than anywhere else on earth. It also ranks number one in the number of VC firms with more than 25% female partners. There is evidently an appreciation for entrepreneurship, with many organizations helping women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and network. However, across industries women still earn less than their male counterparts, and they rank at 6th place for Culture because sexism and harassment are still major issues in the Bay Area.
1. New York City
Ranked first place overall for its ability to attract and foster women entrepreneurs, New York City scores the highest in both Operating Environment and Enabling Environment pillars. With the abundance of cultures, network opportunities and a myriad of different businesses to work with, New York also has a dedicated initiative for women entrepreneurs in its small business department, the only one of its kind in the whole country. However, the report observes that New Yorn is struggling with an aging infrastructure and access to technology is deterred by cost. Despite that, the recently launched Broadband for All initiative is a move in the right direction, and the city is likely to remain very attractive to female entrepreneurs.
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