Institutions, Cultural Beliefs And The Maintenance Of Gender Inequality In Entrepreneurship Across Industrialized Nations
This dissertation addresses the puzzle of why men are approximately two times more likely than women to be business owners in most industrialized nations after accounting for gender differences in relevant start-up resources. Drawing on comparative institutional and social psychological approaches, it develops and evaluates a multilevel theory of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. The author proposes that social policies and cultural beliefs about gender structure both the context in which men and women perceive business ownership as a viable labor market option and the interactions through which they gain legitimacy and support for their business. Specifically, policies which facilitate women's employment may influence the likelihood that women are "pushed" into entrepreneurship. Shared cultural beliefs about gender that prescribe different expectations of competence for women and men and that frame entrepreneurship as a male-typed task may generate gender-biased assessments of entrepreneurial competence and business ideas. As individuals draw on status beliefs to evaluate their own or another's competence at entrepreneurship, such beliefs disadvantage women in the self-assurance and support that is often needed to successfully pursue entrepreneurship. These processes may operate differently, however, when considering innovative rather than repetitive forms of entrepreneurship. Findings show support for this theory. Analyses of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data across 24 countries suggest that state childcare provision is associated with larger gender gaps in the odds of business ownership, but smaller gender gaps in opportunity-driven entrepreneurship. Laboratory experiments conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom reveal evidence of statusbased gender bias in entrepreneurship. However, this evidence is stronger among United Kingdom participants, those in the context where gender inequality in the labor market is more prevalent. In both contexts, bias is mitigated when participants evaluate innovative instead of non-innovative business ideas. Further analyses of GEM data suggest that in many of the 24 countries, women are less likely than men to pursue entrepreneurship partially because they are less likely than men with similar resources to perceive that they have the ability to be an entrepreneur; findings also suggest that women may hold themselves to a stricter standard of entrepreneurial competence than their male-counterparts.
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