A Scottish tech entrepreneur and investor has been appointed chair of a newly-commissioned Scottish Government review into the gender-based barriers facing women in business.

Ana Stewart will oversee the Women in Enterprise Review, which will focus on a number of areas, including education, access to finance and funding, advice, support, and mentoring for women in business.

The report will recommend short, medium, and longer term interventions aimed at helping to address any issues preventing women from pursuing careers in business – including a lack of role models and mentors, child care responsibilities, gender bias in the workplace and unequal pay.

Stewart said: “We have set out to examine current conditions, and to then make recommendations on any perceived gender gap in business ownership and opportunity in Scotland. 

“The review presents a clear opportunity to subsequently put in place systems and networks that give women the support they need to fully realise their business ambitions.” 

Stewart is also placing importance on delivering robust and resilient data sets, so progress can be benchmarked and measured over the coming years.  

She added: “Utilising resilient and relevant data to inform the review and act as the template for the measurement beyond is going to be key. As they say, what gets measured gets done!”

The entrepreneur previously founded and floated IT specialist i-design Group, subsequently acquired by US-based ATM group Cardtronics Inc in 2013, is a partner with St-Andrews-based investment firm Eos Advisory, a non-executive director with the Scottish Football Association, and also sits on the board of online pet wellness startup Bella & Duke and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS). 

The ‘Stewart Review’ is set to close its discovery phase in April, with full findings and recommendations expected by the end of September. 

Judy Wagner of executive search firm FWB, Jackie Waring of female founders network Accelerateher and Gemma Hamilton of investment company Business Growth Fund have joined the review team to support Stewart with specific work streams. 

Stewart added: “What has been incredible so far, is the support, feedback, and intelligence we have received from across the Scottish business scene.  I really can’t thank all our contributors to date enough.”

The Scottish Government has committed funding of £50 million over the course of the next parliament to support women in enterprise.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes recently said: “It is clear that, collectively, we must do more to address the gender gap in business participation in Scotland.  

“I have commissioned experienced entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart to lead a short-term review of how best to target that support and help more women realise their business ambitions.”