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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 8: Do Highly Accomplished Female Entrepreneurs Tend to ‘Give Away Success’?

Mary Riebe

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


Mary Riebe INTRODUCTION Over the past three decades researchers such as Babcock and Laschever (2007), Chodorow (1978), Fels (2004), Gilligan (1982, 1990), Horner (1972) and others have described the ways in which women in the USA and elsewhere are systematically discouraged from achieving success. A significant body of research has demonstrated the inhibiting effect of socialization on women’s beliefs regarding success. Based on Bandura’s (1986) work on self-efficacy (the belief in one’s ability to successfully perform career-related tasks) researchers have found that women tend to have a lower sense of confidence in their professional capabilities and more modest career goals than their male peers. This is particularly true in male-dominated fields or tasks (Betz and Hackett, 1981; Gist and Mitchell, 1992; Zeldin and Pajares, 2000). Building on Weiner’s attribution theory (1985), researchers have also found that women are more likely than men to attribute their successes to luck or hard work than to ability (Försterling et al., 2007; Russo et al., 1991; Swim and Sanna, 1996). Such beliefs have been shown to have negative effects on women’s self-esteem, aspirations, motivation, persistence and resilience (Abramson et al., 1978; Gist and Mitchell, 1992; Hirschy and Morris, 2002). These patterns have been found even among highly successful women (Dyke and Murphy, 2006; Zeldin and Pajares, 2000). This has lead to the most extreme form of what has been termed the imposter phenomenon, whereas woman is unable to internalize her own accomplishments and instead attributes them to luck, timing or the ability to...

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