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Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Research

Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Research

Diverse Settings, Questions and Approaches

Edited by Karen D. Hughes and Jennifer E. Jennings

Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Research responds to recent calls from academic researchers and policy analysts alike to pay greater attention to the diversity and heterogeneity among women entrepreneurs. Drawing together studies by 26 researchers affiliated with the DIANA International Research Network, this collection contributes to a richer and more robust understanding of the field.

Chapter 4: Gender-based Firm Performance Differences in the United States: Examining the Roles of Financial Capital and Motivations

Susan Coleman and Alicia Robb

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, entrepreneurship, gender and management


Susan Coleman and Alicia Robb INTRODUCTION Women-owned firms represent an important segment of the small business sector. According to the latest available data from the US Census Bureau (2010), there were 7.8 million privately held women-owned firms in the USA in 2007 (2007 Survey of Business Owners). These firms generated an estimated US$1.3 trillion in sales and employed 7.6 million people. Although women-owned firms still comprise a minority of all firms (28.7 percent), the number of women-owned firms increased by 44 percent from 1997 to 2007, compared with a growth rate of 30 percent for US firms overall. However, while the number of women-owned businesses grew at twice the rate of all firms over the period 1997–2002, their number grew just slightly faster than the rate of firms overall for the 2002–07 period. Additionally, women-owned firms have lagged men-owned firms in a number of traditional economic performance measures. From 1997 to 2007, revenues for women-owned firms increased by 45.7 percent, compared with 62.7 percent for all US firms. Similarly, employment by women-owned firms grew by only 7.2 percent, compared with a growth rate of 14.8 percent for US firms overall. Finally, payroll grew by 46.3 percent for women-owned firms, compared with 66.4 percent for all US firms. These statistics, provided by the US Census Bureau, reveal that the relative performance of women-owned firms as measured by sales, employment and payroll actually declined for the 1997–2007 period. A number of studies have examined the relative underperformance of...

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