Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by David Smallbone, João Leitão, Mário Raposo and Friederike Welter
Janice Byrne and Alain Fayolle INTRODUCTION Globally, females still represent ‘a minority of those that are self-employed, start new firms, or are small business owner-managers’ (Delmar and Holmquist 2003, p. 46). Evidence that female-owned firms exhibit slower growth, report lower average earnings and are less likely to export than their male counterparts has led many nations to establish gender-specific training facilities (Orser and Riding 2006). Women find themselves in very different situations compared to men, and these different situations result in women entrepreneurs having different perceptions about the world (Allen et al. 2008). The concept of support structures solely for female entrepreneurs has thus gained considerable credence. ‘The implications for policymaking that emerge from this diversity of circumstances and perspectives point to the need for customized or targeted policies’ (Allen et al. 2008, p. 10). There are currently four main areas where it is thought that female entrepreneurs might benefit from support: information and education, networking activities, targeted finance activities and targeted business support activities (Welter 2004). However, while the incidence of gender-based small business training programmes is increasing (Orser and Riding 2006), there is a lack of consensus regarding the need for such external intervention (Welter 2004). The fact that researchers dispute the extent to which differences between male and female entrepreneurs exist (de Bruin et al. 2007) implies that the very basis for such programmes may be questioned. Gender-streamed training and assistance programmes remain under-researched and thus little is known about the design, delivery and outcomes of such...
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