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The relationship between entrepreneurial intent, gender and personality

Mackenzie R. Zisser (Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA)
Sheri L. Johnson (Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA)
Michael A. Freeman (Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)
Paige J. Staudenmaier (Frank H. Netter School of Medicine, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut, USA)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 1 November 2019

Issue publication date: 20 November 2019




The purpose of this study is to examine gender differences in personality traits of people with and without entrepreneurial intent to assess whether women who intend to become entrepreneurs exhibit particular tendencies that can be fostered.


Participants completed an online battery of well-established questionnaires to cover a range of personality traits relevant to entrepreneurship and gender. Participants also answered items concerning intent to become an entrepreneur. A factor analysis of personality traits produced four factors (esteem and power, ambition, risk propensity and communal tendency, the latter reflecting openness and cooperation, without hubris). The authors constructed four parallel regression models to examine how gender, entrepreneurial intent and the interaction of gender with intent related to these four personality factor scores.


Participants who endorsed a desire to become an entrepreneur reported higher ambition. Women with entrepreneurial intentions endorsed higher levels of communal tendency than men with entrepreneurial intent. Those without entrepreneurial intent did not show gender differences in communal tendency.

Research limitations/implications

Current findings suggest that men and women who intend to become entrepreneurs share many traits, but women with entrepreneurial intent show unique elevations in communal tendencies. Thus, a worthwhile locus for intervention into the gender disparity in self-employment would be providing space and acknowledgement of prosocial motivation and goals as one highly successful route to entrepreneurship.


Given the underused economic potential of women entrepreneurs, there is a fundamental need for a rich array of research on factors that limit and promote women’s entry into entrepreneurship. Current findings indicate that personality may be one piece of this puzzle.



This research was supported in part by the Department of Psychology and University of California, Berkeley Seed Funding. A Kauffman Foundation grant provided salary support for Drs Johnson and Freeman.


Zisser, M.R., Johnson, S.L., Freeman, M.A. and Staudenmaier, P.J. (2019), "The relationship between entrepreneurial intent, gender and personality", Gender in Management, Vol. 34 No. 8, pp. 665-684.



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