Context, gender and entrepreneurial intentions

This paper aims to explore how gender differences in entrepreneurial intentions (EI) change when entrepreneurship education (EE) is added to the force field of macro-social stimulants and inhibitors of female EI in the particular context of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Design/methodology/approach The study is based on a pre-post survey with entrepreneurship students and students with a similar profile enrolled in other courses (N = 246) at three universities. The three main hypotheses are evaluated through independent-samples t-tests and a hierarchical multiple regression analysis. Findings The findings indicate a negative effect of gender stereotypes on female students’ EI in the UAE, regardless of the course type. Furthermore, entrepreneurship courses appear to be more successful than other courses in raising the EI of students in general and female students in particular. Finally, adding EE to the equation of macro-social inhibitors and stimulants of female EI in the UAE seems to tip the balance in favor of the influence of economic affluence, rapid modernization and proactive governmental policies to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit among female residents. That is, at the end of the entrepreneurship courses, there was no significant gender difference in EI anymore and female students are significantly more likely to experience a positive change in EI than male students. Research limitations/implications The literature review identifies the need for future studies to evaluate the impact of variability in sampling and methods among previous studies on gender effects in EE. Building on the findings, future studies could identify which aspects of EE are pivotal for customizing female students’ specific local interests and needs. The study is limited in the sense that the data set did not enable tests of moderators at the course level (which mostly requires more qualitative data) and individual level. In addition, the sample is not representative for all female residents in the UAE at large. Practical implications This study might stimulate (UAE) policymakers to increase the scope and quality of EE. In turn, university administrators are recommended to find ways to compensate the self-selection effect (overcome likely opt-out by female students) when entrepreneurship courses are elective. Originality/value This exploration was inspired by the strong emphasis that Julie Weeks put on the gendered impact of macro-level factors in business enabling environments (Weeks, 2011). The empirical analysis builds on a conceptual framework that integrates Krueger’s model of EI, theory on gender stereotypes in entrepreneurship and previous literature on the role of EE (reinforcing or mitigating stereotypes). The study is executed in the relatively unexplored context of the UAE, which offers strong macro-social inhibitors for ánd stimulants of female entrepreneurship.

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