Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century
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Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

An International Multi-Level Research Analysis

Edited by Kate Lewis, Colette Henry, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and John Watson

Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century is the fourth in the series of books emanating from the DIANA International Research Network. The volume takes a multi-dimensional approach to coalesce a series of chapters around the central theme: gender and entrepreneurship today and in the future. The chapters span a diverse range of countries, methodologies, and levels of analysis – however, they all seek to contribute to an advancing understanding of women and their engagement with entrepreneurial endeavours.
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Chapter 1: Advancing theory development in venture creation: signposts for understanding gender

Candida G. Brush, Anne de Bruin and Friederike Welter


Women are one of the fastest-growing populations of entrepreneurs worldwide and make a significant contribution to employment, innovation and economic growth in all economies (Kelley et al., 2011). The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) shows that 126 million women in 67 economies started and managed businesses in 2012, representing more than 52 per cent of the world’s population and 84 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) (Kelley et al., 2013). Another 98 million women across these regions ran businesses they launched at least three years ago. Yet, in nearly all of the 67 economies the rate of men’s venture creation is higher than that of women (Kelley et al., 2013). This raises questions as to why the rate of men’s venture creation exceeds that of women, and what factors explain these differences. Theory development exploring the role of gender in venture creation and sources of possible differences between men and women in this process is limited. Notwithstanding a growing body of literature and notable initiatives (namely the Diana Project, which since 1999 has worked to grow research in the field), there remains a comparative paucity of theoretically grounded research on the topic (Brush et al., 2010b; Hughes et al., 2012; Sullivan and Meek, 2012). Without theory development regarding gender in entrepreneurship, we lack strong conceptual foundations for exploring variation in venture creation and growth between male and female entrepreneurs, and among groups of women (Jennings and Brush, 2013).

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