A Research Perspective
Edited by Candida G. Brush, Anne de Bruin, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Colette Henry
Maura McAdam and Susan Marlow INTRODUCTION Since the 1950s, women have attained increasing visibility within formal waged work such that they now constitute just under half of employees within developed economies overall (OECD, 2003; Women and Equality Unit, 2008). This increasing penetration into the labour market has not yet been echoed within entrepreneurial careers where women constitute, on average, approximately one-quarter of the self-employed and just over one-tenth of business owners across the European Union (OECD, 2003; Global Gender Gap, 2007). Moreover, women-owned businesses tend to be over-represented in locally traded, lower-order services, which constrain growth aspirations and opportunities, as opposed to knowledge-based businesses where there is high growth and export potential (Henry and Johnston, 2003; Carter and Bennett, 2006). Accordingly, women entrepreneurs are heavily under-represented in the science, engineering and technology (SET) sector which, although associated with volatile and high-risk ventures, offers considerable potential for high returns (Smallbone and Wyer, 2006). It might be assumed that this situation is changing; given the increasing numbers of female SET graduates, more women should also be moving into technical entrepreneurship (Mayer, 2006). Female representation in the sciences both at degree and postgraduate level in Ireland is strong, with over 50 per cent of science graduates being female in 2002 compared with a European average of 41 per cent. In the same year the uptake of science, mathematics and computing PhD programmes was 50 per cent female, among the highest in Europe (Forfas, 2003). However, evidence indicates that women are leaving SET careers...
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