Diverse Settings, Questions and Approaches
Edited by Karen D. Hughes and Jennifer E. Jennings
It is a given that entrepreneurship is a legitimate field of study, with more than 50 journals, 2200 members of the Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Division, and the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) drawing more than 600 abstracts every year. Yet, studies focusing on or including women entrepreneurs are few, even though we know from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) that women entrepreneurs are developing businesses, creating jobs, innovating and solving social problems in most countries around the world (Kelley et al. 2010). Since the mid-1980s, most research on women’s entrepreneurship focused on factors influencing the start-up of ventures (Gatewood et al., 2003). Notably absent was an understanding of factors affecting growth. In 1999, I and my colleagues Nancy Carter, Elizabeth Gatewood, Patricia Greene and Myra Hart launched the DIANA project to study the phenomenon of women’s entrepreneurship in the United States. At the time, women-led ventures were smaller than those of their male counterparts, whether measured by size of revenues generated or the number of people employed. We asked, ‘Why do women owned businesses remain smaller than those of their male counterparts?’ A multi-method research effort was undertaken to examine supply of and demand for growth capital relative to women entrepreneurs. Our US research showed that women entrepreneurs seldom acquire sufficient funds to grow their businesses aggressively and to reach their full potential. This raised a new question, ‘Do women face unique challenges in acquiring growth capital?’ While the collective research showed demand by women entrepreneurs...