Women Entrepreneurs and the Myth of ‘Underperformance’
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Women Entrepreneurs and the Myth of ‘Underperformance’

A New Look at Women’s Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Shumaila Yousafzai, Alain Fayolle, Adam Lindgreen, Colette Henry, Saadat Saeed and Shandana Sheikh

Taking a fresh look at how performance is defined by examining the institutional power structures and policies, eminent scholars herein explore ways to overcome constrained performance and encourage women’s entrepreneurial activities through a variety of methodological approaches and geographical contexts.
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Chapter 13: Gender and business performance: the role of entrepreneurial segregation

Natalie Sappleton


Natalie Sappleton highlights the facilitators of women’s entrepreneurship that can overcome constraints on their performance. Natalie explains the importance of accounting for the role of the industrial sector in analysing the link between gender and performance in entrepreneurship. Drawing on previous research on entrepreneurial segregation, particularly vertical and horizontal segregation, Sappleton delineates the importance of analysing entrepreneurial performance and success beyond narrow industry categories and business sectors. She also calls for consideration of the industry’s location and specific types of businesses when comparing male entrepreneurs with female entrepreneurs. Finding that previous research only broadly demarcates industrial sectors into ‘retail’ and ‘services’, she highlights the complexity between the business context and gendered business outcomes and calls for the inclusion of diverse types of businesses when evaluating male- and female-owned enterprises. Natalie also contends that the empirical existence of entrepreneurial segregation means that women owner-operators are channelled into business sectors that are riskiest, that attract limited external financing, and that focus on local markets. Thus, the so-called underperformance of women-owned enterprises should be understood and treated as a manifestation and outcome of entrepreneurial segregation.

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