Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons behind the significant gender gaps observed in entrepreneurial interest among adolescents. Specifically, the authors aim to test multiple models that analyze direct and indirect relationships between work and leadership experience, presence of a parental role model, self‐efficacy, and interest by teens in becoming entrepreneurs. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of over 5,000 middle and high school students participated in the larger study from which the data were drawn. Participants completed measures of entrepreneurial self‐efficacy, entrepreneurial intentions, work and leadership experience, and parental entrepreneurial role model. The authors analyzed the data using structural equation modeling. Findings – While the study confirmed previous empirical findings regarding the antecedents of entrepreneurial self‐efficacy and entrepreneurial intentions, significant differences across gender emerged. First, while boys and girls hold jobs outside of school in comparable numbers, this work experience is much more powerful in generating self‐efficacy among boys. Additionally, the findings indicated that self‐efficacy seemed to have a stronger effect on entrepreneurial interest for girls than for boys, and that having an entrepreneurial mother or father had a significant and positive effect on girls' (but not boys') levels of the entrepreneurial interest. Research limitations/implications – Common method variance and other typical limitations of cross‐sectional self‐report surveys are acknowledged. Future research should use longitudinal and multi‐method approaches to overcome such limitations. Practical implications – Findings suggest that feeling like they are able to succeed as entrepreneurs might count more for girls than for boys when considering career options, and demonstrate the value of entrepreneurial role models for young girls, especially those who already have the confidence and perceived skills to launch their own future ventures. Originality/value – The paper documents research that represents one of the few large‐scale studies of US teens examining entrepreneurial intentions and antecedents across gender.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 16, 2008
Keywords: Entrepreneurialism; Gender; Youth; United States of America
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