Record numbers of British women are setting up their own businesses, according to a new report.
Up to 177,000 women set up businesses in the UK in 2004
The figures, released by London Business School, suggest the gap between men and women starting their own ventures is closing.
For every 100 hundred male entrepreneurs, 46 women set up their own firm in 2004, the report says.
About 25,000 men and women across Britain were questioned in the survey about their businesses.
Over the past year about 177,000 women had set up businesses in Britain.
The entrepreneurial gender gap closed the most in the South West, but remained wide in other parts of the country, including the West Midlands.
According to Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, the number of small and medium sized businesses in Britain had grown by 300,000 in the past seven years.
Employment in small businesses has grown by 600,000.
"Today's report shows that the UK is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and is a better place to start and grow a business than ever before," she said.
"This is down to the hard work of Britain's successful entrepreneurs.
"We want to create a culture that means wherever you live and whatever your background, you can turn your great ideas into a business success.
"That's why I'm pleased that we're narrowing the gap between male and female start-ups."
Figures show that Britain now has more entrepreneurs than France, Germany, Italy and Japan.