Women Entrepreneurs and Networking

Three women

Our fourth and last literature review for NCWIT, supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is now available. As in the other reviews, we examine what social science research tells us about the reasons for the small percentage of IT entrepreneurs who are women. For this review, we consider the influence that gender differences in social capital may have on IT entrepreneurship.

Access to social networks can offer entrepreneurs opportunities, resources, advice, and moral support. Gender differences in social networks, for example in the strength of ties or in the composition of networks, could afford men and women different access to these benefits. In our review, we look especially at homophily – the tendency of people to choose social contacts who are like themselves with respect to characteristics such as sex, race, and education. We explain how this behavior could help us understand the different networks that men and women entrepreneurs have.

We found that evidence remains insufficient for drawing conclusions about the effect of social capital on women's under-representation among IT entrepreneurs. Gender differences in networks are clear; it is their impact on entrepreneurial behavior, particularly entrepreneurial behavior in IT, that remains ambiguous.

To see this literature review, click here. You can also find the three previous literature reviews on gender differences in firm growth, the effect of psychological factors, and access to financial capital on this page.

William Aspray and J. McGrath Cohoon are NCWIT social scientists conducting research on women and IT entrepreneurism as part of a project supported by the Kauffman Foundation.