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Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson
Chapter 17: ‘I’m Out of Here’: Women Leaving Companies in the USA to Start their Own Businesses
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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