Despite New Zealand being the second-best place in the world for female entrepreneurs, more work needs to be done, executives say.
Mastercard's Index of Women Entrepreneurs puts New Zealand just behind the United States with a score of 70.2 versus America's 70.3. One in three business owners is female in this country, which had topped the index in the previous two years.
The global index uses data from international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation, Unesco and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor to track women business owners in 58 societies.
"While New Zealand performs better against the rest of the world, there is still so much less engagement than men," said Ruth Riviere, country manager for Mastercard in New Zealand.
"We have to be careful about patting ourselves on the back, as there are a number of things which contributed to the gap we have for women in business," she added.
Riviere said a key challenge New Zealand faces to get more equal footing for male and female entrepreneurs was more paid paternity leave, where this country was ranked lowest among developed economies.
New Zealand currently offers two weeks of paid leave for partners. When Unicef last reviewed paid partner's leave in the OECD and the European Union, Sweden offered the most at 10.9 weeks, while the average was 3.9 weeks.
She noted New Zealand's high ranking may be helped by the fact that adults in New Zealand were considerably less afraid of failing - only 22 per cent of entrepreneurs were afraid of their businesses failing. The regional average for Asia-Pacific was much more pessimistic with 36 per cent of businesspeople scared of failure versus 42 per cent in Canada and 39 per cent in Ireland.
The data did not provide a gender split when it came to confidence.
However, it found that there was a high "perception of opportunities" rate among women, as nine out of every 10 business activities were opportunity-driven rather than necessity driven. That compared with other developed economies South Korea at 77.8 per cent, France at 66.9 per cent and Belgium at 44.6 per cent.
Entrepreneur Cecilia Robinson said there was merit to the data, and that New Zealand was a good business environment with a lot of private capital "flying around".
"There is work to be done, there are organisations like Theresa Gattung's SheEO and Global Women. New Zealand is really good in that way that there is, for the want of a better word, a sisterhood, but you don't just need exclusive clubs, but men contributing to that," the My Food Bag co-founder said.
Robinson added that New Zealand's position on paid parental leave was an embarrassment for such a developed country.
"We need to think of better ways of working," she said.
Top 10 countries for female entrepreneurs:
1. United States
2. New Zealand
9. United Kingdom