Dr. Bill O' Gorman, from WIT, speaking about this site on WLR

Monday, August 24, 2009

Women Need More Positive Role Models

The below extract was taken from Waterford Today, published on 25th March 09

Irish women are far more likely to enter the Dragon's Den of self-employment if their parents had an entrepreneurial spirit, key research from Waterford Institute of Technology shows.

Those who were given chores and duties in the home from a young age also felt this responsibility was 'good training' for being self-employed. Other women who have set up successful businesses said being involved in sports and activities while at school taught them invaluable lessons in team-work, strategy, creativity and problem-solving.

Despite Ireland's entrepreneurial culture and an even gender population split, just 15-18 per cent of entrepreneurs are female, a rate which is one of the lowest in the developed world.

The quandary spurred the study of some of the 20 female entrepreneurs who participated on the Female Entrepreneurship in Ireland and Wales (FEIW) pilot enterprise development programme, an Interreg-IIIA funded project between Waterford Institute of Technology's Centre for Entrepreneurship and Aberystwyth University, Wales.

Research suggests that women are socialised in a way that inhibits the development of entrepreneurial intentions and steers girls towards more traditional career paths, according to the Centre's Margaret Tynan who supervised the research by WIT's Margaret Durand in the area.

"This study by Margaret Durand examined what made these women different - the socialisation factors that influenced this group. Family was a key motivating influence on the female entrepreneurs in this study. They frequently had entrepreneurial parents and explained that having this made entrepreneurship seem a feasible career option, she found.

"The women also spoke to her about their parents instilling a sense of responsibility in them through giving them chores and duties in the home from a young age. They felt that having chores in the home was 'good training' for being self-employed," the project supervisor added.

In addition, the female entrepreneurs from middle class backgrounds regarded their access to both financial and human capital as important, she added. "They stated that their family's social background and financial security were key to accessing education, which in turn enabled them to access opportunities with confidence. Those who had opportunities to travel and to meet a wide variety of successful people reported an enhanced willingness to take risks and avail of opportunities. The majority stated that entrepreneurship offered a lifestyle and social standing that were highly desirable."

These findings suggest that more females could be encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship as a career if policy contributed to and simulated certain socialisation influences.

Entrepreneurs identified an immediate need to create an environment where girls have contact with entrepreneurs and some level of responsibility, thus it would seem beneficial to run outreach programmes in disadvantaged areas.

All women must have equal access to opportunities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds need to be exposed to success, the study recommended.

It also encourages more females to participate in sports and extra-curricular activity and placing more high profile female entrepreneurs in the media.

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