Women’s entrepreneurship in Ukraine

Alyona Koneva, Zinaida Babiychuk, МЕ-111і, КНЕУ


Participation of women in business, in the legislative process, in legal education, in the positions of lawyers in the public and private sectors and judges of commercial courts. Women make up 54% of the population of Ukraine.

One of the most important manifestations of equality is equality between men and women in the labor market. Ukrainian labor legislation proclaims formal equality, prohibits discrimination in the labor market, but in practice women have fewer career opportunities, lower wages, and work mainly in the low-paid sector.

The disclosure of open government data combined with the application of innovative approaches to data processing has allowed to investigate differences in the situation of women and men both at national level and by region, district, settlement type and type of economic activity.

Publicly accessible files shared by the Ministry of Justice on the open data portal do not have a separate “gender” field — in other words, they are not disaggregated by gender. However, they contain last names, first names and patronymics of individual entrepreneurs and company managers. Using a specially designed algorithm, the researches managed to identify gender by using patronymic suffixes, e.g. “-ovych/-ych” for men and “-ivna/-yivna” for women (as typical in for Ukrainian names).

This study is an attempt to get a better understanding of the gender landscape in Ukraine and inform policies and actions at different levels to address gender disparities. Beyond the significance for gender action, the use of open government data is also a good example of how innovative data analysis can drive policy and help tackle inequalities.

The structure of labor resources of Ukraine

According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in 2020 the population of Ukraine, excluding the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, amounted to 43,733 thousand people. Ukraine is dominated by women: 53.7% against 46.3% of the male population. This advantage is especially significant in the older age groups. For example, at the age of 60 there are 1.35 women per man, at the age of 65 – 1.5 women, and at the age of 70 – 1.76 women. These simple indicators indicate a significant role of the female population in the labor force of Ukraine.

Before we start analyzing employment in general and women in particular, let’s find out the essence of some of the most commonly used concepts. The labor force includes the part of the population that is able to work due to health conditions. In fact, people of working age can be engaged in labor activity. In Ukraine, the working age is defined as 16 years to retirement age, ie up to 60 years – for men and up to 59 – for women.

Labor resources also include working adolescents (15 years) and working pensioners (58 / 60-70 years). Therefore, when analyzing labor resources, statistics most often consider the population aged 15 to 70 years. It can be employed31 or unemployed for various reasons.

Employed and those who are actively looking for work are considered as economically active population. The unemployed population – adolescents, the working age population, the population older than working age – is considered economically inactive.

At 2020, the population aged 15–70, which provides labor resources in Ukraine, was 31.9 million people, or 72% of the total population, including men – 13.8 million (working population aged 15–70 years), women – 18.1 million.

The number of economically active population at that time was 16.9 million people, or 61.5% of the mentioned age group (15-70 years). It is important to note that in the economically active population a larger share was occupied by men: 53% against 47% of women. The employed population in the same period was 15.2 million people. The gender ratio among the employed is about the same as in the previous group: 52% of men versus 48% of women.

Economic activity of women

With the numerical advantage of women, their economic activity is inferior to that of men. This is traditionally due to a number of reasons, including pregnancy and motherhood, the traditional perception of the role of women and men in the family, and others.

However, given the low birth rate, it is worth noting the paradox of the situation when modern women give up having many children in favor of work and career, but at the same time show low economic activity. Only 55.7% of women aged 15-70 are economically active, while for men this figure is 69%.

The economic activity of women varies with age, but in each age group is significantly lower than that of men. Men are starting to offer their work in the market earlier and more massively and stably. At the age of 15-24, they are already 8.6% more than women. At the age of 25-39 more than 90% of men are economically active, at 40-49 this figure decreases slightly.

According to statistics, 30% of women in their age group (15-24 years) start early employment. Women are more likely to receive higher education, which is widely obtained at this age. They make up 55.8% of students of universities of I-II levels of accreditation and 51% of students of universities of III-IV levels of accreditation. Every 12 women aged 20-24 give birth to a child.

At the age of 25–29, the majority of women are economically active – 65.7%, but this is the traditional reproductive age. The average age of a Ukrainian woman giving birth for the first time is 24.9 years, and the birth rate at the age of 25-29 is the highest – 84.8 live births per thousand women of the corresponding age.

With age, women’s economic activity increases and reaches its maximum at the age of 40-49, while for men it begins to decline, but still does not reach the indicators of this population group. Significant human potential remains untapped.

What could be the reason for the insufficiently high economic activity of women in Ukraine? The improvement of women’s business should be in those areas where it based on specific “female” characteristics of behavior, mentality, etc. It is not necessary to go by balancing the spheres of business activity of women and men.

Factors can be divided into objective and subjective. Among the first to be mentioned are the traditional perception of the role of women as guardians of the home, the underdeveloped sphere of household services, the specialization of the economy in industries where male labor is in demand, and more.

Subjective factors include the woman’s own desire, if she has the opportunity, to devote her time to her family or to herself, as well as to the separation of professional and personal development and preference for the latter.

But both take their origins from the socio-economic and socio-cultural environment of a particular country and affect working conditions, the status of working women, attitudes towards her.

In Ukraine women have some problems in the sphere of entrepreneurs as: lack of state support, lack of qualified staff, bureaucracy, lack of funding and lack of confidence in the future, and hence lack of confidence in their activities.

Gender disparity is considerable among the managers, lower among individual entrepreneurs

The overall data set, including both managers of organisations and individual entrepreneurs, points to an overall gender ratio of 60% men vs40% women leaders in business.

However, while women run businesses as individual entrepreneurs almost as often as men do (54% vs46%), it is much less likely for a woman to be a manager in an enterprise or an organization, including government agencies and non-government organizations (70% vs 30%).Women make up only 30% among legal entity managers

A few sectors are predominantly men-led or women-led

In those sectors which are predominantly women-led, it is more common to find men in a managerial position — compared to the likelihood of finding a woman manager in a predominantly “men’s” field.

The most gender-balanced sectors (with 44–55% of managers being women), include hotels and restaurants (among all entities); public administration, arts/sports/entertainment (among organizations); real estate agencies, health care, and wholesale and retail trade (among IEs).

Women managers dominate in sectors related to women’s traditional roles

The only overall sector where women managers prevail is education (69% of managers being women). When it comes to specific activities within a sector, there are several cases where women managers are the rule rather than the exception. Women account for 92% of managers in “hairdressing and beauty business”.

The full list of sectors where women managers prevail reflects what is seen as traditional roles for women in households and communities: education and child care, social assistance, trade union activities, hotels, restaurants, retail sale of food and clothing, manufacturing of wearing apparel, beauty business, tourism, arts and recreation, and managing household budgets.

Men lead most companies in transport, construction, and agriculture

Sectors with more than 80% of men managers are transport, construction, and agriculture. As regards specific economic activities in different sectors, men predominantly lead companies in wholesale trade, growing of cereals, construction, and combined facilities’ support activities.

Besides, men lead most non-governmental organizations and almost all religious organizations.

In Kyiv, the share of women managers is substantially lower than in other regions

In general, regional differences in terms of gender representation at managerial level are rather minor, except for Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital stands out with a higher share of men business leaders — 66%, compared to the national average of 60%.

The percentage of male managers in the capital generally exceeds Ukraine’s average. This is due to the fact that in Kyiv a larger number of the business analysed are organisations, rather than individual companies. And women representation in the management of organisations, as we have seen, is significantly lower.

The share of women managers and individual entrepreneurs is higher in smaller towns

In bigger cities, gender balance is more common in management positions. At the same time, small towns and villages demonstrate more distinct gender profiles by sector.

Among the entrepreneurs, the women’s share is higher in smaller towns due to their engagement in retail trade; this activity is the most common among women entrepreneurs in smaller towns and villages.

In larger cities, women entrepreneurs’ activities are more diversified.


Women’s entrepreneurship is relatively a new phenomenon for Ukrainian economy. Research of women’s involvement in business is especially important because entrepreneurship is the basis for the middle class formation, which is the social basis of civil society.

The middle class contributes to the pro- motion and defense of democratic principles, rules of law, and opposes any encroachment on the rights of citizens, including from the state.

As women in Ukraine count for more than half of the population, a help in implementing and facilitating the growth of theirs of business will promote more competitive economy and serve as an important factor of women’s becoming more involved in socio-political affairs.

Women’s entrepreneurship in Ukraine (II)


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