Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Gender, Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy, and Entrepreneurial Career Intentions: Implications for Entrepreneurship Education (1)

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Gender, Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy, and Entrepreneurial Career Intentions: Implications for Entrepreneurship Education (1)

Article excerpt

The relationships between gender, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial intentions were examined for two sample groups: adolescents and adult master of business administration (MBA) students. Similar gender effects on entrepreneurial self-efficacy are shown for both groups and support earlier research on the relationship between self-efficacy and career intentions. Additionally, the effects of entrepreneurship education in MBA programs on entrepreneurial self-efficacy proved stronger for women than for men. Implications for educators and policy makers were discussed, and areas for future research outlined.


Women play a substantial role in entrepreneurship throughout the world. In advanced market economies, women own 25% of all businesses and the number of women-owned businesses in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are increasing rapidly (Estes, 1999; Jalbert, 2000). In the United States alone, the 6.7 million privately held majority women-owned businesses account for $1.19 trillion in sales and employ 9.8 million people. Moreover, the growth rate of women-owned businesses is impressive (Women-Owned Businesses, 2004). Between 1997 and 2004, employment in women-owned businesses increased by 39% compared to 12% nationally, and revenues rose by 46% compared to 34% among all privately held U.S. businesses. These data reinforce the value of studying women's entrepreneurship, and likely account for the increased attention being paid to this area by scholars and educators. However, current trends mask the fact that men continue to be more active in entrepreneurship than women worldwide. Recent data suggest that the largest gaps occur in middle-income nations where men are 75% more likely than women to be active entrepreneurs, compared with 33% in high-income countries and 41% in low-income countries (Minnitti, Arenius, & Langowitz, 2005).

In order to more fully capture the talents of women in new venture creation in the future, a vibrant "pipeline" of potential entrepreneurs is required. However, previous research has shown that this pipeline of women may be weak. Adult men in the United States are twice as likely as women to be in the process of starting a new business (Reynolds, Carter, Gartner, Greene, & Cox, 2002). Furthermore, research on the career interests of teens, the potential entrepreneurs of the next generation, has revealed significantly less interest among girls than among boys in entrepreneurial careers (Kourilsky & Walstad, 1998; Marlino & Wilson, 2003).

Many factors undoubtedly contribute to the disparity between men and women in entrepreneurial career interests and behaviors. One factor in particular, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, or the self-confidence that one has the necessary skills to succeed in creating a business, has been demonstrated to play a key role in determining the level of interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial career. Interestingly, the effects appear to differ by gender. For example, Kickul, Wilson, and Marlino (2004) found that entrepreneurial self-efficacy had a stronger effect on entrepreneurial career interest for teenage girls than for boys. For teen girls, it appears that their perceptions that they have the abilities or skills to succeed as entrepreneurs are simply more important in considering future career options than for boys. These findings are consistent with previous research on adults that indicates that women are more likely than men to limit their ultimate career choices because of their lack of confidence in their abilities (Bandura, 1992), and that women in particular shun entrepreneurial endeavors because they think they lack the required skills (Chen, Greene, & Crick, 1998).

We are motivated to further explore these relationships by our belief that a more complete understanding of the interplay between gender, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial intention (2) is key to improving the participation rate of women in entrepreneurial activities. …

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