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Is a lack of self‐confidence hindering women entrepreneurs?

Jodyanne Kirkwood (Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 26 June 2009




Studies have concluded that men tend to have higher self‐confidence than women and that this affects their entrepreneurial intentions. However, little is known about how self‐confidence affects entrepreneurs in their start‐up decision, and even less is understood about how it affects entrepreneurs' decisions and actions in their ongoing business. The purpose of this paper is to meet these two objectives by using a gender comparative approach.


A total of 50 entrepreneurs (25 women and 25 men) in New Zealand were interviewed in a semi‐structured format.


Women exhibit a lack of self‐confidence in their own abilities as entrepreneurs compared to men. This finding parallels results of prior research. Once in an established business, women relate to entrepreneurship less than men and do not feel comfortable calling themselves entrepreneurs. For some women, entrepreneurial self‐confidence grew over their time in business. For other women, it appears to continue to act as a constraint – affecting their ability to access finance and curtailing their growth aspirations.

Research limitations/implications

In total, 50 entrepreneurs were studied, and further research could be done to understand the impact of self‐confidence for larger samples of entrepreneurs.


The qualitative nature of the study contributes to the limited understanding of how entrepreneurial self‐confidence affects both the start‐up decision and sustained entrepreneurship, but more research required. A key outcome of this paper is that it provides directions for further research to more fully understand this phenomenon. It also presents a number of policy suggestions.



Kirkwood, J. (2009), "Is a lack of self‐confidence hindering women entrepreneurs?", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 118-133.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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