Entrepreneurial intentions of young women in the Arab world

Salime Mehtap (Department of Business Administration, Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Amman, Jordan)
Massimiliano M. Pellegrini (Department of Management and Law, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy)
Andrea Caputo (Lincoln Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)
Dianne H.B. Welsh (Bryan School of Business and Economics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 2 October 2017



Female entrepreneurship is a growing segment in the context of developing countries and has the potential to become a driving force for economic development. However, research suggests that females are less inclined toward entrepreneurship when compared to their male counterparts. This fact is related to a complex mix of causes such as the belief that entrepreneurship is a male domain, certain conditions within the economic and social environment and a general lack of confidence with regards to succeeding in such activities. Barriers to female entrepreneurship are prevalent in the patriarchal Arab world. The purpose of this paper is to measure the perceptions of female Jordanian business students with regards to the socio-cultural barriers to entrepreneurship. It also looks at the conduciveness of the education they are receiving in terms of new venture creation.


A sample of 254 female business students from two universities in Jordan was asked to evaluate various factors within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the business education they are currently receiving. A factor analysis has been performed to show which relevant elements may prevent young women from engaging with entrepreneurial activities. A comparison of perceptions about the educational system has also been presented to understand how a supportive educational environment may affect the previous analysis.


The results indicated that a strong supportive education system to some extent may reduce the perception of potential barriers for entrepreneurship but the overall impact can be limited. Conversely, an educational system lacking a supportive environment and concrete initiatives can deeply affect and worsen the fears of engaging in entrepreneurship amongst female students.


The role of women in the Arab world is quite marked and the reluctance of women to take a more decisive engagement in entrepreneurship may be reinforced by conservative, societal traditions. A supportive education system has the potential to act as a catalyst to encourage active female participation in the entrepreneurial domain, thus helping to spur economic development in the region.



Salime Mehtap, Massimiliano M. Pellegrini, Andrea Caputo and Dianne H.B. Welsh (2017) "Entrepreneurial intentions of young women in the Arab world", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 880-902

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-07-2017-0214



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