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Entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) is often included in entrepreneurial intentions models to explain why some individuals are more likely than others to become entrepreneurs. An unsettled question among researchers is whether ESE differs between men and women. While early studies seem to suggest that men have higher ESE than women, more recent studies are inconclusive. Lacking empirical support for gender differences in ESE compels researchers to look for other factors to explain variation in entrepreneurial self-efficacy. The present study confirms two recent studies finding no significant difference in ESE between men and women in a representative sample of MBA students. This finding leads to an investigation of gender-role orientation as a possible determinant of differences in entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Results indicate that the relationship between gender-role orientation and entrepreneurial self-efficacy is complex and multifaceted. Early in the venture creation process, the searching and planning tasks demand creativity and innovation where a strong mix of masculine and feminine traits (androgyny) improves performance. Later in the venture creation process, an individual (male or female) with a strong masculine orientation seems better suited for undertaking entrepreneurial tasks associated with persuading and leading others.


Published in Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship 13, no. 1 (2008): 3-20.

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Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship