Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different

SBA Office of Advocacy funded paper “Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different?,” by Erin Kepler and Scott Shane. When other factors are controlled for, gender does not affect new venture performance. However, several factors—differing expectations, reasons for starting a business, motivations, opportunities sought and types of businesses—vary between the genders, and these result in differing outcomes. Such observations should be taken into account when comparing the outcomes of ventures across genders. “Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different”

While gender was shown not to affect new venture performance when preferences, motivation, and expectations were controlled for, the differences observed among men’s and women’s new business ventures include the following:

  • Men had more business experience prior to opening the business and higher expectations.
  • Women entrepreneurs had a larger average household size.
  • The educational backgrounds of male and female entrepreneurs were similar.
  • Women were less likely than men to purchase their business.
  • Women were more likely to have positive revenues,but men were more likely to own an employer firm.
  • Female owners were more likely to prefer low risk/return businesses.
  • Men spent slightly more time on their new ventures than women.
  • Male owners were more likely to start a business to make money, had higher expectations for their business, and did more research to identify business opportunities.
  • Male entrepreneurs were more likely to found technologically intensive businesses, businesses that lose their competitive advantage more quickly, and businesses that have a less geographically localized customer base.
  • Male owners spent more effort searching for business opportunities and this held up when other factors were controlled for.
  • Differences between women and men concerning venture size and hours are explained by control variables such as prior start-up and industry experience.
  • Researchers and policymakers need to understand that studies which do not take into account the differing nature of men- and women-owned firms could result in misleading results.