Research shows entrepreneurial differences between the sexes

April 3, 2012

A study of the sexes reveals that when it comes to starting a business, women are more likely than men to consider individual responsibility and use business as a vehicle for social and environmental change.

"We found that are 1.17 times more likely than men to create social ventures than economic ventures, and women are 1.23 times more likely to pursue environmental ventures than economic focused ventures," says Diana Hechevarria, a doctoral candidate in management and entrepreneurship in the University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Hechevarria, along with co-authors Amy Ingram, Rachida Justo and Siri Terjesen, examined data on different start-up types (economic, social and environmental) on more than 10,000 individuals from 52 counties.

Their research—"Are women more likely to pursue social and environmental entrepreneurship?"—is published as a chapter in the book, "Global Women's Entrepreneurship Research: Diverse Settings, Questions and Approaches," recently released by Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.

Their study used 2009 data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an annual assessment of the entrepreneurial activity across many countries.

Ingram, then a doctoral candidate at UC, is now assistant professor in the College of Business and Behavioral Science at Clemson University. Terjesen is an assistant professor of strategic management and international business at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Justo is a professor of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship at the IE School in Madrid.

The research is a first to provide evidence that women entrepreneurs are more active in social and environmental start-ups than men.

"Traditionally, men have always been more active in start-ups, but that's because we typically have studied economic, social and environmental start-ups all together," Hechevarria says.

From a policy standpoint, government initiatives are aimed at minimizing the entrepreneurial gender gap to increase equity and economic growth, Hechevarria says.

"There's a global trend towards narrowing the gender gap in entrepreneurship to create a favorable environment for social entrepreneurship and socially responsible venturing versus traditional conceptualizations of being solely for a profit venture," Hechevarria says. "Thus, I think we will likely see more policy to encourage women to continue to pursue these types of start ups."

Explore further: Taking care of business shouldn't be just for men

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