Research Says: Encouraging Girls Is Key In Closing The Entrepreneurial Gender Gap

Study: Resolving the Entrepreneurship Gender Gap (Scott Shane, The Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2011)

Finding: The entrepreneurial gender gap remains stagnant but encouraging young girls to pursue careers in business could foster growth.

Note about The Woman Effect Research Index: This study was performed by researchers not affiliated with InPower Women. Our Research Index includes all relevant research to the subject of women, business and power. We do not influence how the research was conducted or reported by the researchers. In our abstracts, we focus on pulling out the most actionable advice for individual women. To suggest additional research we should index, or discuss our choice of abstract focus, please contact us

InPower Insight: Expand young girls’ knowledge of career options and spark an interest in entrepreneurship by teaching them early about business ownership and exposing them to entrepreneurial female role models.


The good news about the entrepreneurial gender gap is that women aren’t losing ground. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic show that percentages for women in entrepreneurship still remain at a little over 20% since 1994. What women need is to gain ground in the number of businesses owned. Reports show that women are:

  • 60% less likely to be self employed,
  • 11.7% less likely to have employees than men and
  • revenue sales for women are 40% of that generated by male-owned businesses with four-fifths generating less than $50,000 annually. R

Research shows that women tend to care more about job flexibility and aim to establish businesses in industries with few people and less revenue. All of this together paints an interesting picture of women entrepreneurs as people who run businesses to support their lives instead of to grow larger businesses.

In this research by Bloomberg Businessweek, researcher Scott Shane shows that the gender gap in the entrepreneurial world may be attributed to the fact that young girls show little interest in owning their own businesses. Shane referenced a study by Marilyn Kourilsky and William Walstad that found a 14 point difference between high school girls and boys interests in business and becoming business owners.

In his report, Shane states, “If we don’t change how girls think about business ownership, the gender gap will persist indefinitely.” His suggested solution is to relocate resources to grow and nurture young girls’ knowledge and interests in business ownership, as well as providing them with female role models who have achieved entrepreneurial success.

Career Coaching Tip:Whether you’re an entrepreneur yourself or not, be conscious of the role model you are to young girls and women around you. Be sure to talk about your career in empowering terms – about the choices it gives you instead of the way it tires you out. If you have daughters, make sure you explain the basics of your business to them so they understand the difference between for-profit, non-profit and other kinds of organizations. If they show interest, go into more depth, but make sure the basic facts are in their head. Use these opportunities to retell your own story in powerful terms, which is always a good way to think of yourself!

Category: Participation

Keywords:Entrepreneurship, Gender gap, Girls, Self-employed

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Photo Credit: Amy Loves Yah

 This abstract was originally published on InPower Women.


  1. I appreciate this study. I recently posted a discussion asking about our young girls and entrepreneurship. I started two programs in Texas, one is called “Celebrate Yourself ” development of V.I.P.’s- VICTORIOUS INDEPENDENT PEOPLE. This program uses sports and dance to motivate and inspire young girls. We use these as tools to teach life lessons educate stimulate and assist in reaching goals setting goals ans pave the road to success.

    The other is a scholarship fund. We hold a girls basketball camp exhibition game each summer. We give out a scholarship each year.

    With both programs we do college tours City tours International tours coming soon.we invite successful people celebrities to come and share with the girls
    The goal is to bridge that gap by working on self esteem confidence.

    The research is exactly correct.

    LaQuita Thompson

  2. I too appreciate this study. And i recently posted on project eve a story about young girls aspiring to be real women.

    Mentoring, and bridging the gender gap is a critical element to ensuring young girls not only succeed as women, but as business women, and as REAL women. My work is focused on getting young girls to understand ‘career’ and ‘business’ in it’s true sense (and not just from a text book) as early as possible. I believe many of our young girls today are so innovative, and think like ‘adults’ in their teens. It’s up to us to help them understand what it is we wished ‘we knew then what we knew now’. My programs (currently being designed) will focus on key life skills and lining these up with how to be an entrepreneur and business woman from teenage years. Through Sport, Community programs and contributing to key business initiatives they enjoy (and having the right mentors), my mantra is that young women can develop these skills early, whilst still having fun! !!

    The younger women can see and understand their true talents, the sooner they gain confidence and become real women and true leaders. This is my goal.

    I’m a former pro basketball player in Australia so LaQuita, absolutely support the great work you’re doing with your programs.

    Thanks for the great post April. Ana

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