Women’s Entrepreneurship Policy Research: A 30-Year Review of the Evidence

This paper focuses on women’s entrepreneurship policy as a core component of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We use a systematic literature review (SLR) approach to critically explore the policy implications of women’s entrepreneurship research according to gender perspective: feminist empiricism, feminist standpoint theory, and post-structuralist feminist theory. Our research question asks whether there is a link between the nature of policy implications and the different theoretical perspectives adopted, and whether scholars’ policy implications have changed as the field of women’s entrepreneurship research has developed. We concentrate on empirical studies published in the “Big Five” primary entrepreneurship research journals (SBE, ETP, JBV, JSBM, and ERD) over a period of more than 30 years (1983–2015). We find that policy implications from women’s entrepreneurship research are mostly vague, conservative, and center on identifying skills gaps in women entrepreneurs that need to be “fixed,” thus isolating and individualizing any perceived problem. Despite an increase in the number of articles offering policy implications, we find little variance in the types of policy implications being offered by scholars, regardless of the particular theoretical perspective adopted, and no notable change over our 30-year review period. Recommendations to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women from a policy perspective are offered, and avenues for future research are identified.

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