Gender and business ownership: questioning “what” and “why”

M. Cristina Díaz‐García (Business Administration Department, University of Castilla‐La Mancha, Albacete, Spain)
Candida Brush (Babson College, Babson Park, Massachusetts, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 27 January 2012



To date, comparisons of performance in male and female businesses show contradictory results, although the majority of evidence is drawn from Anglo‐Saxon countries. This study aims to explore the effects of gender on business performance in a sample of Spanish firms.


This paper extends previous work with a quantitative analysis of effects of gender on performance. In‐depth interviews yield insights on how gender impacts performance.


The quantitative analysis shows that gender has a simple effect on performance, but it is less robust when other factors are included in the model. Furthermore, this relationship is more complex, since gender has an indirect and moderating effect on performance. The results indicate possible sources of gender differences and suggest factors that require further investigation with a qualitative approach. This analysis expands our understanding in two ways: first, by suggesting that we have to make sense of businesses through another lens, and second, by implying that we have to be aware that we can find heterogeneity among women.

Research limitations/implications

Performance differences are due to differences in women's assessment of performance and/or their socio‐economic positioning. The premises of mainstream theories should be questioned in order to develop gender research.


The study answers the call of using mixed methods to gain insights that lead to a cumulative knowledge in this area.



Díaz‐García, M. and Brush, C. (2012), "Gender and business ownership: questioning “what” and “why”", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 4-27.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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