Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

Gražina Startienė, Rita Remeikienė

Abstract


The article considers a significant global issue – gender gap starting and developing own business. The field of business was for a long time reserved to men, thus, despite of an increasing number of female entrepreneurs during last decade, the number of female entrepreneurs in Europe, including Lithuania, remains lower than the one of male entrepreneurs. According to the data of various statistical sources, an average ratio of enterprises newly established by men and women in EU countries is about 70% and 30% (European Economic and Social Committee, 2007). Especially in developing countries where gender stereotypes formed through long decades (women’s main role is to be wife and mother) are treated as one of the most important obstacles preventing women to start their own business. Business development, achievements in work environment such as successful carrier, increased personal influence and prestige in society, in contrast with simple job, require conditionally great personal commitment which according to various sources of literature (Nordic Innovation Centre (2007); M. Minniti (2003); P. Tominc, M. Rebernik (2006)) is more acceptable to men than women. Moreover, it is supposed that own business often puts to shade personal private life; therefore it is more associated to men than women. Going deep into the field was also encouraged by the discovery that the analysed literature lacks more detailed discussion of factors that determine the emergence of gender gap in perspective of business establishment. Scientists point out various factors, attach them to various groups, however, little attention is paid to the impact of those factors to existing gender gap. At present, literature does not have an answer to such questions as: “Why do differences exist?“, “What causes them?“. The aim of the article – to determine differences of gender gap in entrepreneurship – is to review the reasons provided in literature explaining the emergence of gender gap when starting own business, to analyse and point out the factors which positively or negatively influence the behaviour of men and women in business and also, on the grounds of expert evaluation, to perform a comparative study of gender gap in entrepreneurship in Lithuania. Having performed an analysis of scientific literature, the conclusion was made that the theories of feminism and discrimination, changes of demographic factors, different value systems and various other factors best explain the prevailing gender differences between men and women. In order to systemise different factors influencing gender gap, the article provides such factor groups as cultural, organisational, economic, demographic, psychological, technological, institutional and political factors. Also the factors that influence the differences of men and women in business in three ways (increase, decrease and neutral) are excluded. Having completed a comparative analysis of gender differences in entrepreneurship, the conclusion was made that the gender differences discussed and analysed in literature are relevant also to Lithuanian entrepreneurs. An expert survey revealed that enterprises managed by men are bigger, exist longer than the ones managed by women; however, the fields of business establishment of both men and women are very similar. It is important to note that the theory emphasises different value systems of genders in obvious practise.


Keywords


gender gap; factors influencing gender gap in entrepreneurship; entrepreneurship.

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Print ISSN: 1392-2785
Online ISSN: 2029-5839