What stereotypes are attached to entrepreneurs of each gender? What are the differences in their respective management styles? How do they envisage growing the company or opening up their capital?

The WIF study provides information on the current status of diversity inside companies and helps us gain a better understanding of what is preventing women from becoming entrepreneurs.

The report is based on a survey conducted by the Women Initiative Foundation in cooperation with BNP Paribas Wealth Management and with the support of CEDE-ESSEC, carried out in the second half of 2017 among 400 men and women entrepreneurs in France, Germany and Italy.


Main conclusions of the study:

  • Family first: The only common barrier identified in each of the three countries is the impact of family constraints that impinge on their work. This was cited by 90% of the Italian women entrepreneurs surveyed. In fact family influence may play an important role, as 80% of those polled in Italy said they had entrepreneur parents. The corresponding figure was 37% in Germany and 35% in France.

  • Unsatisfactory salary environment is the main motivation for creating their own companies: Mentioned by women entrepreneurs in all three countries, this feeling is amplified among respondents under 35.

  • Perceived stereotypes: Male entrepreneurs believe that women are more pragmatic, listen more, are non-authoritarian and less political, yet more combative.
    Meanwhile women entrepreneurs perceive men to be more ambitious, authoritarian, more likely to be strategists, self-confident, yet lacking in listening skills and unethical. Women tend to believe the myth of male entrepreneurs being self-confident and political.

  • Stereotypes linked to management style: The entire sample of respondents agree that women’s management style is consensual, more motivating and above all more fair and humane than men’s. Men are described  as more authoritarian.

  • Expansion strategy: Women have a different approach to expanding the capital of their company. Some 90% of those surveyed want to keep control of their capital, compared with 67% of the men. Men tend to envisage growth more through acquisition (40%, compared with 31% among the women) or setting up subsidiaries (45%, compared with 34% of the women polled). Women have a preference for launching new products within their current companies (82%, compared with 77% of the men).


Self-censorship and a lack of self-confidence are key factors identified in the study: These factors are cited by 86% of French women entrepreneurs and 63% of German women entrepreneurs. In order to help deal with this issue, the Women Initiative Foundation has drawn up the following recommendations:

  • Strengthen the WIF Volunteer Mentoring Program especially regarding financial and growth policies.

  • Contribute, through high-level strategic training, to the development of growth entrepreneurs.

  • Offer a kind of ‘Erasmus for entrepreneurship’ to engineering/business courses in entrepreneurship training so as to enable women to get to know and draw inspiration from different parts of Europe.

  • Continue to expand this study by comparing American and Canadian data to better understand the situation and define good practices for developing female entrepreneurship.

  • Feed the reflections of institutions and more specifically financial institutions into policies designed to support female entrepreneurship.

BNP Paribas Wealth Management creates initiatives to understand, serve and celebrate women entrepreneurs:


About the Women Initiative Foundation (WIF)

Founded in 2016, WIF brings together, organises and leads its Global Circle Network, a vast network made up of mentees and mentors, strategic partners, company leaders, experts and friends across France, the rest of Europe and in the United States. WIF encourages the promotion of women in the world of business and the economy in general. WIF’s mission is to become a think tank and to speak out in favour of gender diversity, respect for and recognition of women in business. In addition to its philanthropic sponsorship, WIF conducts research on these themes through pan-European surveys and reports, several publications and university programmes such as the one developed at Stanford University in conjunction with BNP Paribas. In mid-2017, having successfully run a volunteer support programme for women entrepreneurs running growing companies, WIF launched a transatlantic programme for both French entrepreneurs wishing to develop their business in the United States with the support of an American mentor – and US entrepreneurs wishing to set up in Europe with the help of a European mentor.

About BNP Paribas Wealth Management

BNP Paribas Wealth Management is a leading global private bank and the largest private bank in the Eurozone. Present in three hubs in Europe, Asia and the US, over 6,800 professionals provide a private investor clientele with solutions for optimising and managing their assets. The bank has €362 billion worth of assets under management (as at 31 March 2018).

Press contacts

Women Initiative Foundation

Sibylle de Villeneuve: +33 (0)6 45 29 58 57 ;
Lucie Vial Blondeau: +33 (0)6 23 55 56 64 ;

BNP Paribas Wealth Management
Servane Costrel de Corainville: + 33 (0)6 74 81 98 27 ;