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.


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