Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Entrepreneurial Career Ambitions of Female Psychology Students: Demystifying Gender Stereotypes

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Entrepreneurial Career Ambitions of Female Psychology Students: Demystifying Gender Stereotypes

Article excerpt

Globally, the participation of women in entrepreneurship has increased tremendously over the last decades and now is significant in most developed and many developing countries (Minniti, Allen & Langowitz, 2005). In Europe, a study by Hallisey, Hannigan and Ray (2002) among dental students found that entrepreneurial motive was rated among the major reasons for career choice. However, gender parity on participation in entrepreneurship has not been attained. For example, a study conducted by Small and McClean (2002) among Barbadian youth revealed that males more than females were entrepreneurially motivated. This is supported by Bardasi, Blackden and Guzman (2008) who observed a similar trend in a study that covered regions that included Belgium and the Philippines.

In Africa, women were found to be major players than men in the private sector, particularly agriculture and informal businesses (Bardasi et al., 2008). However, women were more likely than men to own their enterprise together with other family members rather than on their own. The predominance of women in family enterprise may be linked to factors affecting family members which include their legal status and, marital and property rights (Bardasi et al., 2008). Also, women entrepreneurs were found to be young suggesting that access to entrepreneurship may be easier for younger women. Of importance also was the observation that fewer female entrepreneurs were married, implying that women may find it difficult to combine both family and enterprise responsibilities. Maxfield's (2005) study shows that poorer countries appear to have fewer women participating in entrepreneurial activities although the rates of participation vary across nations. In contrast, the same study found that South Africa was among countries with the least gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Despite the growing role of women among entrepreneurs and small business owners, academic work on entrepreneurship neglects gender (Maxfield, 2005). This observation seems to be inconsistent with the scholarly work that has been done to date. Studies in the USA by Matthews and Moser (1996) among business graduates, Crant (1996) among undergraduates and MBAs, Kourilsky and Walstad (1998) among high school students, Raijman (2001) among Mexican immigrants in Chicago and another in Malaysia by Keat (2008) among graduate students show that women have a weaker inclination towards entrepreneurship.

A cross cultural study by Baycan-Levent, Masurel and Nijkamp (2003) with ethnic groups from Turkey, India, Pakistan and Morocco found lower participation of women in entrepreneurship. A related study conducted in Asia shows a similar pattern in entrepreneurial participation by women. Tomoko (2001) carried out a study with Japanese university students and noted that female students had less favourable entrepreneurial outcome expectations. Another study conducted by Johnson (2007) found that US physical therapist students female students had statistically significantly lower odds of expecting to own a private practice and having a higher income in the first year of employment.

Kourilsky and Walstad (1998) suggest that gender discrepancy may be attributed to the high risk associated with entrepreneurship as women may have a lower propensity for risk taking. The researchers also state that there may be educational practices or socio-cultural influences that significantly reduce the level of female interest in starting a business. Johnson (2007) presumes that female students' entrepreneurial motives and income expectations may mirror the anticipation of career patterns associated with family responsibilities. Kourilsky and Walstad (1998) further contend that females seem to be more aware of their knowledge deficiencies, thus making them less confident in their ability to start a business.

It is observed that the massification of education in both South Africa and Zimbabwe after attaining political independence has increased the entiy of women into universities yet the job market is increasing getting dry. …

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