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 5: Women entrepreneurs in Asia: culture and the state in China and Japan

Kathryn Ibata-Arens


An assumption about Asian economies is that women play more traditional roles and are not motivated to pursue entrepreneurial careers. In culture-based explanations, such as Hofstede (1980), Asian countries are often labeled as ‘masculine’ societies. The challenges that women face within systems with a gender bias (for example, discrimination by banks) are said to limit female entrepreneurs to the ‘most ambitious’ (Lituchy et al., 2003). However, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data indicates that both the overall entrepreneurship rate and the rate for female entrepreneurs varies across countries within Asia in a pattern similar to the variation in other world regions (Kelley et al., 2011; Kelley et al., 2012). Furthermore, women in Asian countries such as Singapore and Thailand have entrepreneurship rates on a par with their male counterparts, and these countries create as many new firms, proportionately, as the United States and other Western countries (Kelley et al., 2011, Kelley et al., 2012). Highlighting the experiences of women entrepreneurs in both China and Japan, this chapter explores the potential impact of state policies and culture on the incidence of women’s entrepreneurship in Asian countries. China and Japan exhibit a significant variation in the occurrence of female entrepreneurship (high in China and low in Japan), not due to state intervention per se, but rather because of the nature of such intervention.

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