Since the onset of recession in 2008 the UK working population has undergone seismic shifts. While almost all have endured some kind of fall out from economic hardship or uncertainty, looking across the gender divide we see that men and women have been affected quite differently.

While unemployment figures have fallen in the last few months they’re still much higher (currently 7.8% according to the ONS) than their pre-crisis lows of around 5.3% and many commentators argue that the improving numbers mask the true level of underemployment (people who want to work more hours but can’t).

Many (us included) have pinned hopes of economic recovery on growing self-employment and small business and it’s in this area that the fortunes of men and women have greatly diverged over the last four years.
A recent report by the TUC shows that 54% of the new self-employment since April 2008 was women led. Women’s self-employment has been growing faster than men’s for at least a decade but the figure is still staggering and highlights the vital role that female entrepreneurs and business leaders play in rebalancing our economy.
To big up the efforts of those doing their utmost to promote and foster women starting and leading businesses in 2012, we’ve decided to set aside a category of our Best Business Blog Awards to honour the best bloggers on the topic of Women in Business.
Let’s meet the winners…

About: The original Prowess was the National Association for the Promotion of Women’s Enterprise – a DTI commissioned membership body which came up with the first UK national strategy for women’s enterprise. Prowess 2.0 describes itself as an ‘online centre for women in business’ and it’s clear from a cursory glance at their site that they’re all about building a collaborative support network for UK businesswomen.
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Edited by Erika Watson (the founder and CEO of the original Prowess), the blog focuses on providing practical support to women already in business or in the process of setting a business up. This support ranges from information on funding sources, through inspirational stories from those who’ve already trodden the same path to advice on where to find support networks throughout the country.
The blog also does an excellent job of keeping up to date with the latest news that affects women in business, introducing new support schemes that busy users may have missed and  reflecting the current situation with respect to female employment and leadership.
Its diverse and expert pool of writers provide cogent analysis of how changes to government policy are helping or hindering female business success. They’re clearly not afraid to engage with readers in the comments section either.
If you’re a woman in a leadership role, running a business or even just thinking about setting one up, Prowess2.0 deserves a place in your bookmarks list.
The NEA is a government scheme to help unemployed people start their own business. Women are five times as likely to start a business from unemployment from men, so why are only 17% of the scheme’s participants female?

About: Jessica Chivers trained as a psychologist and brought all the transferable skills with her when starting her coaching business in 2004. She’s the author of the book ‘Mothers Work!’, Look magazine’s first ‘Life Consultant’ columnist and a consumate public speaker. Her coaching clients range from M&S to Santander.
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As you’d expect from a blogger with a background in coaching and psychology, Jessica’s blog is very much focused on the human aspects of achieving business success as a woman.
There’s practical advice on offer on everything from how to achieve a positive work psychology, how to manage working relationships and returning to work after a child through to providing inspiration and motivation to step up a career to the next level.
Where Jessica really excels though is in providing a breadcrumb trail of advice and guidance to working mothers – as the title of her book implies – which comes from real experience. The obstacles for mothers returning to work or setting up their own business are many and daunting but Jessica shows through her writing that they need never be insurmountable.
Read the blog and follow her on Twitter @jesschivers
According to a paper in the Harvard Business Review women are in a minority at the upper echelons of business due to a perceived lack of vision. But is this ‘vision thing’ really a problem of vision or a problem of attribution?

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