A Research Perspective
Edited by Candida G. Brush, Anne de Bruin, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Colette Henry
Chapter 3: Gender and Entrepreneurship: Revealing Constructions and Underlying Processes – The Case of Norway
Gry Agnete Alsos, Ragnhild Steen Jensen and Elisabet Ljunggren INTRODUCTION In spite of the increase in women’s engagement in entrepreneurial activities, entrepreneurship and business ownership are still male-dominated activities. This is particularly true in Western countries, otherwise expected to have reached quite far when it comes to gender equality in society. Results from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) indicate that a significant gender gap exists for both early stage entrepreneurial participation and established business ownership, and that this gender gap is significantly greater in high-income countries (Allen et al., 2007). The proportion of women engaging in entrepreneurial activities lags behind that in the labour force (Verheul et al., 2006). This is particularly true in the Nordic countries, where the share of women in the labour force is very high, but the proportion of female entrepreneurs remains relatively low. These countries have put forward several efforts to increase entrepreneurship among women with varying results. In this chapter we argue that the relationship between gender and entrepreneurial activity is far more complex than these policy measures often assume. The construction of entrepreneurship as a masculine phenomenon has long historical roots, sustained by cultural, social and economic processes. To understand how the gender gap emerges, we must develop greater understanding of how entrepreneurship and a gendered understanding of entrepreneurship are embedded in societal constructions (Elam, 2008). In this chapter the Norwegian case is used to discuss possible cultural, historical, social and economic reasons for what may be termed ‘the women entrepreneurship paradox’, that...
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