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Women non‐traditional entrepreneurs and social capital

Natalie Sappleton (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Manchester, UK)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 25 September 2009




The purpose of this paper is to consider the relationship between “entrepreneurial segregation” – self‐employment in a gender typical or atypical sector – and social capital.


This paper is based on analysis of data from the 2006 wave of the European Social Survey (ESS). A sample of 2,214 male and female business owners is extracted from the dataset. The sample comprises four sub‐samples – females in female‐dominated industries (n=283); females in male‐dominated industries (337); males in male‐dominated industries (n=1,476) and males in female‐dominated industries (n=118). Regression analysis is used to determine the impact of business owners' gender and the sector of their firm upon their levels of social capital.


Women who operate firms in traditionally female sectors are found to have the highest levels of social capital. In stark contrast, those individuals – men and women – working in traditionally male sectors exhibit lower levels of social capital, measured in terms of trust, community engagement and social networks. Furthermore, self‐employment in a gender traditional or non‐traditional sector is found to be a significant predictor of social capital.


This paper adds to the literature on female entrepreneurship in general but also contributes to the embryonic body of work that is concerned with segregation in self‐employment. To date, very little research has been conducted on women in atypical enterprises, or on the nature of their activities. This paper is a preliminary step towards filling this academic gap. No prior study has assessed the social capital men and women entrepreneurs operating traditional and non‐traditional enterprises.



Sappleton, N. (2009), "Women non‐traditional entrepreneurs and social capital", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 192-218.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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