International Women’s Day

Women more keen to turn hobby into business: Poll

Pslove’s Ms Tan Peck Ying (left in centre panel) and Kiddet’s Ms Natalya Twohill were at an event to mark Facebook’s #SheMeans Business initiative.
Pslove’s Ms Tan Peck Ying (left in centre panel) and Kiddet’s Ms Natalya Twohill were at an event to mark Facebook’s #SheMeans Business initiative. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

They also want to set up own firm to work around family time, Facebook survey shows

More women than men want to turn their hobby or passion into a career.

These are the findings of a survey on women entrepreneurship conducted by consultancy Development Economics and market research firm YouGov on behalf of Facebook.

Close to half - 48 per cent - of female respondents wanted to turn their passion into a business, compared with 39 per cent of their male counterparts.

Associate Professor Sarah Cheah from the National University Singapore’s (NUS) department of management and organisation suggested several possible reasons for the disparity.

First, she said, women tend to be more socially engaged than men, and may derive pleasure from engaging with like-minded individuals about their hobbies.

The difference in ambition between the genders could be another factor. "Studies have shown that men possess greater aggressiveness and ambition than women.

"A study showed that women are satisfied just providing for their community while maintaining work-life balance, but men think about internationalising.

"To men, higher growth targets such as greater profitability are more important, so they would rather venture into uncharted but promising waters."

The survey results were released yesterday on International Women’s Day. It coincided with the first anniversary of Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness initiative, which celebrates and supports women entrepreneurs. An event was held at Facebook Singapore.

A total of 2,027 adults were polled for the survey from January to February, about half of them women.

Other findings show that 39 per cent of women surveyed wanted to run their own business so as to work around family commitments, versus 28per cent of surveyed men.

Prof Cheah said that again this fits in with established research. She explained that women - especially in Asian societies-tend to fulfil traditional roles such as wives, mothers and daughters-in-law.

"Because of these traditional roles, they tend to develop their career around family commitments."

Panellists at last night’s event shared their stories and the challenges of setting up their businesses.

Ms Tan Peck Ying, who co-founded pain-relief heat pad firm Pslove, said that although women may think that entrepreneurship offers flexibility, the reality is different.

"When you jump into business, you will realise that a lot of your time is spent on the business."

Ms Tan, 29, said the hardest thing about being a woman and an entrepreneur is worrying about sacrificing family time and whether the business would succeed. It is important to find a balance, she said.

Ms Natalya Twohill, founder and chief executive of education and enrichment app Kiddet, said her nephew inspired her to start the company 11months ago.

Ms Twohill - the older sister of Singapore Idol contestant Paul Twohill - was frustrated by how hard it was to find enrichment activities for her nephew and created her app to simplify the process.

She said her hardest challenge as a woman in the business world was trying to balance work and family, even though her family did not press her to do so.

Despite their challenges, the entrepreneurs have ambitious plans for this year. Pslove wants to expand to Hong Kong and the Philippines, while Kiddet will move into Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Said Ms Twohill, 31: "I think in the start-up scene in Singapore, you should never think of your business just being Singaporean. It’s all about the region."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'Women more keen to turn hobby into business: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe