Gendered Life Course Explanations

Gendered life course explanations are a hot topic in both the academic and commercial world right now.

I was engaging with a paper last week on the very topic and once I had got past the startling statement by S. Shane (2008 Illusions of entrepreneurship: The costly myths that entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers live by) which says ‘‘Most new businesses fail. Pretty much all studies agree on that. The only question is how long it takes for a majority of them to go out of business (and why)”. I picked my coffee back up and started to consider.

There is debate that fewer female entrepreneurs is driven by the life style cycle. This is a topic of interest for exit scholars as we want to try and understand what differences set with the motivations across genders. The more female entrepreneurs we have the more we can learn about motivations and if, and how, shock, or perhaps the combination lock model theory, plays a part.

Increasingly however, home-based entrepreneurship is being promoted as a flexible strategy for women to generate income alongside the autonomy of when and where to conduct her business. This trend has given rise to notions such as ‘mumpreneurship’ given assumptions that flexible home-based enterprise equates with specific forms of maternal entrepreneurial femininity (P Lewis, 2014)

Equally understanding why women enter and exit can be linked to the demands of parenting and roles within the house. Martinengo et al note that differences get smoothed over in the life cycle of childhood. The demands between ‘child rearing’ (awful term!), school age children and empty nest syndrome bring a wealth of different needs and demands. These can apply to employed roles as well as self employed roles. Equally the different stages of childhood can be absolutely a reason for entry and exit.

Equally, as summarised in Jayawarna et al (2021) and Thebaud (2015) there is a balance between time demands and economic risks and also provision to mitigate work life demands, including additional resource available to the household.

There is a lot more for debate here and a wider understanding of how we can attract more female entrepreneurs. Part of this must be to understand the nuances of family like and how society can further support innovation during this life cycle.

More female entrepreneurs means more potential exits and more rich data to understand motivations!

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