The influence of sex and gender-role orientation in the decision to become an entrepreneur

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between sex, gender-role orientation (GRO) and the decision to become an entrepreneur. Because of the fact that gender stereotypes have influences on the preferences and choices of individuals in their career, this research proposes the following objectives: to determine the existence of gender stereotypes that have an influence on human behaviour and specially in this research context; to measure the GRO of each individual; and, finally, to analyze the relationship between the entrepreneurial intention, the sex and the GRO of participants.

Based on a questionnaire, this study follows the Bem Sex-Role Inventory methodology to perform an analysis by means of the multiple regression model. This study uses two different samples of 760 students who attend business administration and management undergraduate programs.

The outcomes show that GRO is a better predictor of the decision to become an entrepreneur than biological sex. Moreover, the results for the whole sample confirm the relationship between masculine and androgynous GRO with entrepreneurial intention, whereas there is also evidence of feminine GRO when we consider only women.

Research limitations/implications
In line with previous studies that link GRO and entrepreneurship, in this paper, the authors have analyzed business administration students’ view to draw conclusions. The next step is to apply the gender perspective to advance in the analysis of the features that characterize business managers. Likewise, it is interesting to continue the study of gender social construction in entrepreneurship focusing on the discourse used by entrepreneurs or in the media.

Practical implications
The conclusions of this study are relevant for educators and trainers of future entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial archetype evolves from masculinity to androgyny. This may help women entrepreneurial intentions. Emphasizing androgynous traits is a way to disable male stereotype domination and threat. This possibility is open, not only for educators who have the ability to improve this perception but also for media, advertising companies and women to push and value female entrepreneurship.

Social implications
The implicit dynamism in GROs leads to the possibility of changes in workplace views and especially in entrepreneurship as a career option. In this way, it is possible that the general belief that the company owners are men may change. Improving women entrepreneurs’ social visibility, which acts as “role models” may increase female entrepreneur intention. Moreover, emphasis on the androgynous entrepreneur traits in forums at different levels of education, in entrepreneur training activities, will certainly increase the women entrepreneur intention if they perceive they have positively valued traits for entrepreneurship.

Selecting 31 items related with the entrepreneur person, this work tests empirically their gender categorization. This procedure allows to measure participants’ GRO following the four gender categories and classify them by sex. Finally, the authors analyze the influence the GRO and sex exert over entrepreneurial intention and provide empirical evidence in favour that GRO is a more robust variable to predict entrepreneurial intention than sex, and androgynous GRO is the most influential category on entrepreneurial intention.

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