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Women in charge: social capital of female entrepreneurs in the neighbourhood and beyond

Towards an Understanding of the Economies of Neighbourhoods and Communities

Beate Volker

It is widely acknowledged that woman’s networks and their social capital considerably differ from men’s. Given that social capital is an important resource for getting ahead in society it is important to understand these differences. Do women and men create different forms of social capital and are there differences in the benefits of social capital? Furthermore, what is the role of the neighbourhood where the business is located; what are the benefits of local social ties and of the macro-level social capital for these businesses? These questions are addressed in order to determine whether gender differences impact the way entrepreneurs run their business. Two opposing arguments are employed: firstly, given the social position of women in society – female entrepreneurs are expected to focus more on family and less on instrumental relationships than men, regardless of their education and labour market activity. The second and opposing argument is that women who design and run a business are acting beyond traditional gender roles. Data from a 2014 survey of entrepreneurs in the Netherlands (SSNE) are used for the analysis. Results show that men and women differ in their number of weaker ties. In addition, while women’s businesses benefit from a neighbourhood’s social capital, that is, macro-level social capital, men’s seem to benefit in particular from access to many diverse positions in the neighbourhood and beyond and men’s beneficial ties are located at the micro level.