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International Handbook of Women and Small Business Entrepreneurship

Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson

The number of women entering small business ownership has increased significantly across the world in recent years. These women make a crucial contribution to the economic growth and development of local, national and global economies. Yet, despite their increasing numbers, they have received comparatively little attention from the academic community. This comprehensive and coherent book redresses the balance and provides an up-to-date, theoretical review of this important area of study. A distinguished group of international contributors presents the latest work from the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, India and Singapore, which explores practical initiatives and strategies related to the experiences of women entering small business entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 17: ‘I’m Out of Here’: Women Leaving Companies in the USA to Start their Own Businesses

Mary C. Mattis


Mary C. Mattis Introduction For the last three decades women have succeeded in entering careers in corporate America in unprecedented numbers. Today, women continue to make up a growing segment of the candidate/talent pool from which US business organizations draw entry-level professional and management employees. In most business organizations, women also represent a sizeable percentage of employees advancing into the ranks of middle managers. However, research shows that more often than not, women’s advancement stops there (Catalyst, 1996; Davidson and Burke, 2000; Bell and Nkomo, 2001; Burke and Nelson, 2002; Ely et al., 2003). While women have increasingly prepared themselves for careers in business, companies have not dismantled the barriers that prevent them from effectively developing and advancing female talent. It is not surprising, then, that from the mid-1980s on, articles began to appear in the business and popular press and media noting a dramatic rise in women’s entrepreneurship (Vogue, 1982; Working Woman, 1982; Hartman, 1985; Waldrop, 1994). These articles cited a number of reasons for this increase: persistent gender-related inequities in the workplace such as wage gaps between men and women, the stifling of women’s upward mobility within corporations, the desire for economic self-sufficiency and for creative expression, and the fact that women are able to manage dependent-care responsibilities more effectively with the greater flexibility that entrepreneurship affords. Definitional issues Studying women-owned businesses has presented some methodological problems for researchers (Stevenson, 1990). A major difficulty has to do with the shifting de...

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