Brazilian women’s entrepreneurial profile and intention

Patricia Viveiros de Castro Krakauer (Centro Universitário Campo Limpo Paulista (UNIFACCAMP), Campo Limpo Paulista, SP, Brazil)
Gustavo Hermínio Salati Marcondes de Moraes (Faculdade de Ciências Aplicadas da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (FCA/UNICAMP), Limeira, SP, Brazil)
Roberto Coda (Centro Universitário Campo Limpo Paulista (UNIFACCAMP), Campo Limpo Paulista, SP, Brazil)
Davi de França Berne (Centro Universitário Campo Limpo Paulista (UNIFACCAMP), Campo Limpo Paulista, SP, Brazil)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Publication date: 19 November 2018



The paper aims to investigate the existence of typical preferred behaviours that might characterize Brazilian women’s entrepreneurial profile and whether this profile influences their motivation to undertake a venture.


Following the evolution of the literature on women entrepreneurship, the study criticizes the rational view that conceives entrepreneurship as a universal phenomenon and immune to gender. A quantitative approach based on multivariate data analysis (structural equation modelling) was applied to a sample of 418 women entrepreneurs with regard to six hypotheses associated with a specifically conceived conceptual model.


The behavioural categories tested in the model that most influence Brazilian women’s entrepreneurial profile are planning, identifying opportunities, sociability and leadership, corroborating the results of other international studies. Behaviours connected with persistence did not correlate to Brazilian women’s entrepreneurial profile. The hypothesis that women’s entrepreneurial profile positively influences their entrepreneurial intention was confirmed.

Research limitations/implications

As the study is based on an intentional, non-probabilistic sample, further research needs to be conducted using other forms of sampling, extending the findings to other contexts internationally and to other Brazilian regions.

Practical implications

Women can perceive whether their behavioural profile is suited to embracing entrepreneurship challenges, helping them to make effective career choices.


The study provides a robust model with high explanatory value. It contributes to the women’s entrepreneurship literature from the perspective of a Latin American developing country, offering valuable insights regarding the impact of entrepreneurial behavioural profile on women’s entrepreneurial activities.



Krakauer, P., de Moraes, G., Coda, R. and Berne, D. (2018), "Brazilian women’s entrepreneurial profile and intention", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 361-380.

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There are several perspectives of studies on entrepreneurship. We can see changes in their approaches over time, ranging from an economic approach, with Schumpeter, to a behavioural and managerial approach, with Drucker, McClelland and other current theorists seeking to understand the phenomenon from a more holistic view such as corporate entrepreneurship studies and gender studies.

The approach of the present research is behavioural in nature (Endres and Woods, 2006), and criticizes the rational view according to which entrepreneurship is a universal phenomenon and immune to gender. In this paper, we consider entrepreneurship as private and sensitive to the gender variable (Bruni et al., 2004). Although the study presented here does not analyse behavioural differences between male and female entrepreneurs, it contextualizes female entrepreneurship in the Brazilian business environment, specifically in the southeast region, which is the most developed part of the country.

Gender studies in entrepreneurship emerged in the literature due to the growing number of women entrepreneurs (DeBruin et al., 2006; Brush et al., 2009). This phenomenon also occurred in Brazil, as demonstrated by reports from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), showing that since 2002, female entrepreneurship has grown in Brazil (Gomes et al., 2014). In 2010, 49 per cent of Brazilian entrepreneurs were female, and this number increased to 53 per cent in 2017 (GEM, 2017), demonstrating the significant involvement of women in entrepreneurship. In Brazil, there is a well-established entrepreneurial culture, with 14 per cent of the population owning their own business, equivalent to approximately 29 million people, five million of whom are located in the southeast region (IBGE, 2017), which is the focus of this study. Despite this significant growth in Brazil and around the world, the field of study has traditionally focussed on studying male entrepreneurs (Ahl, 2006; Gupta et al., 2009). Only more recently, possibly driven by the increase in women who intend to start their own business, has research turned to the female universe, involving not only features inherent to gender but also potential and women’s entrepreneurial intention. Bruni et al. (2004) in this respect highlight that it is necessary to dress and not to undress entrepreneurship from gender.

The first step in the entrepreneurial process is the entrepreneurial intention (Bird, 1988; Zhao et al., 2010), which is a predisposition or motivation to become an entrepreneur. According to Krueger (2007), this is what lies behind entrepreneurship. Fayolle and Liñán (2014) also highlight a relationship between entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial behaviour that warrants further study both empirically and theoretically. Behavioural features that stand out in the way entrepreneurs act can also influence the will to become an entrepreneur. These characteristics could represent the predominant profile of women entrepreneurs in terms of the particular behaviours of this group of individuals, who are the focus of our study. Therefore, the questions that guide this study are: Which entrepreneurial behaviours can be considered as specific to women’s entrepreneurial profile? Does this profile determine their intention to become an entrepreneur?

The study has two objectives:

  1. to determine the existence of typical behaviours that form a profile of Brazilian female entrepreneurs; and

  2. to gauge whether this entrepreneurial profile influences their entrepreneurial intention.

Although studies on female entrepreneurship have been conducted since the 1970s around the world and addressed diverse topics, highlighting the profile of women entrepreneurs (Ahl, 2006), in Brazil the first studies only date back to the early 2000s. Despite the advances in this field of research, the subject continues to be lacking in more in-depth studies (Gomes et al., 2014), continuing to be perceived as a challenge (Miranda et al., 2017), also with regard to the relationship between intention and entrepreneurial behaviour (Fayolle and Liñán, 2014).

Studying the entrepreneurial behaviour of Brazilian women is also justified by women’s conditions in our society: entrepreneurial activities can help women to overcome problems related to employability in large corporations, achieving greater gains and overcoming discrimination in the job market. It also contributes towards the empowerment of women.

As perceived by Gupta et al. (2009), studies on entrepreneurial intention naturally have practical implications, considering the large number of people who intend to start a business and their consequent relationship with the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is especially true in Brazil, due to current economic difficulties. The Brazilian economic crisis began in 2015 and has yet to end, causing a considerable rise in unemployment. Miranda et al. (2017) argue that the socio-economic context of a country influences entrepreneurial intention, justifying the contextual specificity of the present study.

Precise knowledge of which behaviours compose women’s entrepreneurial profile and whether these behaviours influence their intention to start a new business will aid the development of women’s entrepreneurial qualities in specific training programs. It will also serve as a basis for formulating future strategies and policies for the development of women’s entrepreneurship in public and private agencies to promote female entrepreneurs, providing a possibility to reduce unemployment in our country.

Theoretical framework

The theoretical foundations underlying the identification of behavioural profiles are based on the belief that different functions require different behavioural patterns and competencies. Furthermore, different people demonstrate these behaviours with different levels of efficiency. There is now growing recognition that different managerial functions or director’s roles have a set of effective and successful behaviours associated with them. All individuals have a unique behavioural profile and personality that influence the balance between their professional characteristics and work requirements and their responsibilities (Shelton et al., 2002).

In the present study, we consider that a set of certain behaviours constitutes individuals’ behavioural profiles. Studies on entrepreneurship, such as those of Filion (2000) and McClelland (1965), point out that particular characteristics of an entrepreneur are not only personality traits, but also correspond to people with certain types of behavioural preferences. These preferred behaviours form the entrepreneurial profile. As these studies focus more on the male reality (Edelman et al., 2018; Bruni et al., 2004), it cannot be stated that the entrepreneurial behaviours listed in the literature also apply to women. Thus, in this section, these general behaviours, which are recurrently listed in the literature, as well as specific behaviours of women entrepreneurs and actions related to their intentions to become entrepreneurs will be presented, forming a framework for the conceptual model that was developed and tested in this paper.

Entrepreneurial behaviour

There are many behaviours associated with the entrepreneurial profile. In our study, we prioritized five of them: identifying opportunities, persistence, planning, sociability and leadership. These variables were investigated in the study of Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009) and are considered part of the entrepreneurial profile. They are not specifically for women, but are found in entrepreneurship studies that do not distinguish gender as a parameter.

Many other variables are listed in the literature as belonging to the construct of entrepreneurial behaviour, including risk control (McClelland, 1965), initiative (Hisrich et al., 2014), propensity for innovation (Hisrich et al., 2014; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), resilience (Blackburn et al., 2013) and self-realization (McClelland, 1965). However, as many variables constitute the entrepreneurial profile of both men and women, the present study was limited to the five aforementioned variables, as shown in Table I.

Identifying opportunities has been the mainstream of entrepreneurship studies (Jamali, 2009) that focus on understanding the behavioural aspects of entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. Defined as the ability to identify, explore and grasp the value of business opportunities (Markman and Baron, 2003; Schmidt and Bohnenberger, 2009), it is one of the behavioural features that promote entrepreneurial intention. In women, specifically, it is related to personal aspirations (Jamali, 2009).

Markman and Baron (2003) state that one of the characteristics of entrepreneurs is their ability to persist with uncertain projects, working intensively and sacrificing other aspects of their private lives. To be successful, entrepreneurs need to overcome several obstacles, make mistakes and persist. Considering this perception, Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009) and Rocha and Freitas (2014) regard persistence as part of a construct of self-actualization, as entrepreneurs interviewed by these authors considered themselves more persistent than people who do not have their own business.

Blackburn et al. (2013) reinforce planning and organization as activities of entrepreneurs. These qualities are also mentioned by McClelland (1965), whose work is considered innovative in the behavioural perspective of entrepreneurship, although his focus was on men. Filion (2000) believes that one of the characteristics of entrepreneurs is planning their future by defining what they want and how they will achieve it.

The way individuals make use of their social network is also a behavioural feature pertaining to an entrepreneur (Rocha and Freitas, 2014; Schmidt and Bohnenberger, 2009), also described by Sarasvathy and Venkataraman (2011) as an essential aspect to identify opportunities. To these authors, it is through entrepreneurs’ social networks that new opportunities are identified, which means that the entrepreneurial process per se generates opportunities. Furthermore, the entrepreneurs’ degree of sociability will make them identify such opportunities whether in an easier or harder way. Markman and Baron (2003) add that the social network is a support for entrepreneurs’ professional activities, with sociability as a characteristic of the entrepreneurial profile, a position corroborated by Foss (2010).

Leadership, also mentioned in the studies by Rocha and Freitas (2014) and Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009) as one of the behavioural characteristics of entrepreneurs, is perceived by Filion (2000) as the way entrepreneurs behave to influence other people to pursue a common goal. Authors such as Kaur and Bains (2013) claim that this feature is part of the female profile, related especially to management issues.

Another behavioural characteristic commonly related to entrepreneurs is risk propensity. This feature is found in general behavioural studies, where it is presented as part of entrepreneurial actions (McClelland, 1965). Furthermore, entrepreneurs behave differently according to gender. Women tend to be risk-averse, whereas men tend to be risk-prone (Cramer et al., 2002; Patrick et al., 2016). Therefore, as it is not a feature of the profile of women entrepreneurs, it was not included in the conceptual model of this research. Table I shows the characteristics considered in the conceptual model and their descriptions.

In Brazil, a study conducted by Coda et al. (2018), after researching 407 male and female entrepreneurs, concluded that some behaviours were identified while others were not. The ones that were identified were risk control, seeking opportunities, self-confidence, initiative, leadership, resilience, concern with efficiency and goals, while focus on planning, the market, resources and propensity for innovation were not statistically confirmed.

Entrepreneurial women’s profile

Foss (2010, p. 84), using a consolidated theoretical basis, argues that:

[…] biological sex is no longer treated as an analytical category, as one should be sceptical of treating men and women as two groups with distinct and coherent patterns of behaviour

and considers that “gender is a cultural code to be negotiated and renegotiated, varying in time and place”.

Therefore, with gender understood as a construct related to the context, we begin this section by highlighting the profile of women entrepreneurs in São Paulo State, Brazil, the region in question (SEBRAE, 2013). It involves young women, mostly aged 25 to 39, concentrated mainly in the service and retail sectors. Most of them have a university degree. Their income is lower than that of male entrepreneurs, although higher than that of women with jobs. They are more extrovert and sociable than men and are as intuitive as men. They are multi-task people, and they prefer oral communication and well-defined routines. In keeping with the findings of Gimenez et al. (2017), they show that Brazilian female entrepreneurs manage to balance family and work, going so far as to bring their husbands and children to work in the business when it grows.

In general, the behavioural profile combines individuals’ characteristics that help them perform tasks in the most appropriate way possible (Mohammed et al., 2017). These characteristics can be divided into the natural and non-natural. Meutia and Ismail (2012) state that natural features consist of inherent traits or behaviours, attitudes, self-image and social role, whereas non-natural or learned skills are characteristics required to perform a role and can be acquired by means of practical or theoretical learning, including knowledge, competences and experience.

To identify the behaviours of women entrepreneurs, the study by Mohammed et al. (2017) provides a conclusive reference. First, women entrepreneurs are concerned with accelerating the growth of their businesses and, to do so, they need to master and develop the variable of identifying opportunities (Seabela and Fatoki, 2014). Identifying opportunities has a positive relationship with the success of the business (Hoyos-Ruperto et al., 2013). In São Paulo, Brazil, women are concerned with the growth of their businesses (Gimenez et al., 2017), but tend to run less innovative businesses, especially because they dedicate themselves to domestic businesses, small retail and services businesses in the line of beauty treatment (GEM, 2017; SEBRAE, 2013).

The second feature associated with women’s entrepreneurial profile is the ability to organize. This comprises the behaviours of running, leading, encouraging, planning and scheduling work, as well as developing work programs and arranging the finances of the business (Kaur and Bains, 2013). This domain also involves managing internal and external programs for the organization, such as promoting products and services, proper financial management, logistics and personnel management (Lans et al., 2011; Wickramaratne et al., 2014).

The third and last type of women’s entrepreneurial set of characteristics, according to Mohammed et al. (2017), is their strategic posture. Ahmad et al. (2010) define strategic thinking as the ability of women entrepreneurs connected to a wide range of behaviours such as monitoring progress towards strategic goals, prioritizing activities according to business goals, identifying long-term issues, ensuring the alignment of work processes with strategic goals, redesigning processes for ensuring long-term goals and assessing costs and benefits of ongoing actions. In short, it involves the ability to develop a long-term strategic plan related to the organizational vision and develop strategies to enable the implementation of the established plan (Stonehouse and Pemberton, 2002).

Foss (2010) adds that the use of social networks is part of a strategic posture and considers that women, although not as skilful when it comes to creating relationship networks as their male colleagues, are inherently relational. These characteristics are also found in the Brazilian context, as the report prepared by Itaú Mulher Empreendedora (2017) [Itaú Entrepreneurial Woman] shows that women entrepreneurs have few contact networks and do not always participate in larger or more innovative businesses.

Women’s entrepreneurial intention

Previous studies (Davis and Long, 1999) show that to start a business, women and men essentially have the same critical needs: innovative ideas, entrepreneurial behaviour and personality traits, business plan, long-term strategies and a desire for independence and financial gain. However, despite similar needs, other studies, such as those by Verheul et al. (2012) and Shinnar et al. (2012), show that the reasons that lead women to manage or not manage a business are specific and substantially differ from men’s entrepreneurial intention.

Unlike men, a significant number of women who are motivated to start a business confirm that women’s entrepreneurial intention is related to the desire to have greater autonomy and the possibility of having a balanced life, integrating the demands of family and their professional lives (Maes et al., 2014; McGowan et al., 2012; Baughn et al., 2006). They also desire work that is flexible and offers greater financial gain (Mattis, 2004; Martino et al., 2006; Walker and Webster, 2007; Williams, 2004).

Women and men often have similar intentions when it comes to financial gain as a stimulus for entrepreneurship. However, women, in particular, desire not to have a boss (McGowan et al., 2012).

Díaz-García and Jiménez-Moreno (2010) state that the intention to become an entrepreneur is related to the perception of an entrepreneurial career as a sound possibility. On the other hand, Gupta et al. (2009) argue that many women do not intend to start a business because people in their lives do not consider it a female activity. Jamali (2009) states that entrepreneurial intention is related to the perception of poor job opportunities in certain sectors in which women are qualified to work, or to having previously suffered professional discrimination, making the option to start a business interesting.

These motives were also found in an empirical study conducted among Brazilian entrepreneurs by Rede Mulher Empreendedora [Entrepreneurial Women Network] (RME, 2016). It showed that the main reasons that motivate women to start a business have to do with experiencing satisfaction with the nature of their work and having greater flexibility in their schedules. It is important to emphasize that cultural and personal factors, according to Meutia and Ismail (2012), and socio-economic factors, in the view of Miranda et al. (2017), are significantly associated with entrepreneurial intention. Nevertheless, this was not the case in the 56 articles analysed by Gimenez et al. (2017) regarding female entrepreneurship in Brazil, and they make it clear that the motives that lead women to become entrepreneurs in Brazil are similar to those mentioned in articles that study this phenomenon in other countries.

As entrepreneurial intention is a cognitive manifestation of individuals related to the desire to start a new business (Feder and Niţu-Antonie, 2017), we perceived in the literature two groups of factors related to women’s entrepreneurial intention, referred to as “push” and “pull” (Amit and Muller, 1995; Jamali, 2009; Patrick et al., 2016). Push factors are exogenous factors that push people to start a new business, such as dissatisfaction with their position in the labour market. On the other hand, pull factors are endogenous and attract entrepreneurs to begin an activity due to their personal characteristics and the attractiveness of the opportunity. Akehurst et al. (2012) highlight that the principal exogenous factors that lead women to become entrepreneurs are self-employment and unemployment, and the principal endogenous factors, as in other studies cited above (McGowan et al., 2012; Walker and Webster, 2007), are the need for autonomy and flexibility.

Endogenous factors that motivate people to become entrepreneurs are related to behavioural and personal characteristics (Feder and Niţu-Antonie, 2017; Jamali, 2009). These may or may not make up women’s entrepreneurial profile, which will be tested using the conceptual model of the study, which will be presented below.

Conceptual model and research hypotheses

In accordance with the literature review and the hypotheses of our study, we developed a model to illustrate the purpose of our research (Figure 1), seeking to assess the possible relationship between entrepreneurial behaviours and women’s entrepreneurial profile and their intention to start a business. The visual representation facilitates an understanding of the proposed theoretical model (Whetten, 1989).

The conceptual model was based on lists of entrepreneurial characteristics in the studies by Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009) and Rocha and Freitas (2014) on women’s entrepreneurial profile (Díaz-García and Jiménez-Moreno, 2010) and on entrepreneurial intention (Gupta et al., 2009; Jamali, 2009). From the proposed model (Figure 1), we defined six hypotheses that allowed the model to be tested and validated. These are shown in Table II.

Methodological aspects

The research was conducted using a quantitative methodology, with the use of multivariate data analysis. Since the objectives are to predict and explain the presented constructs, in accordance with suggestions by Hair et al. (2017), we used structural equation modelling with the partial least squares (PLS-SEM) technique.

From the information gathered from the literature, a questionnaire was created (Table III) with questions that measure women’s entrepreneurial characteristics, profile and intention. Issues concerning indicators of Opportunity, Persistence, Planning, Sociability, and Leadership were prepared based on the study by Santos (2008), which featured a scale validated with relevant constructs regarding our topic. Issues regarding Entrepreneurial Intention were based on and adapted from Santos (2008), Liñán and Chen (2009) and Saeed et al. (2015). Indicators of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Profile construct were developed by the authors and tested by exploratory analysis.

To evaluate the sample size and statistical power of the analyses, we used G*Power 3.1 software (Faul et al., 2009) according to recommendations by Chin and Newsted (1999), Cohen (1988) and Hair et al. (2017). The largest amount of arrows that point to a latent variable is 5 (largest amount of predictors). Considering 5 predictors, significance level of 5 per cent, statistical power of 0.8, and average effect size (f2 = 0.15, which is equivalent to r2 = 13 per cent), the minimum size of the sample is 92. The final sample that was used (418 people) is suitable for estimation by partial least squares path modelling (PLS-PM). A posteriori (post hoc) analyses for the sample obtained indicate that:

  • any r2 higher than 3.02 per cent would be significant, retaining the power of 0.8 and the significance level of 5 per cent; and

  • for the average effect size, the power is 0.999, which is above 0.8, the value recommended by Chin and Newsted (1999) and Hair et al. (2017).

The data for this survey were collected using a questionnaire made up of closed-ended questions on a ten-point Likert scale. The online version of the questionnaire was made available at specific events for women entrepreneurs, mostly in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in May, June and July 2017. These were public meetings aimed at the development of entrepreneurship and all women who attended were invited to participate.

Before performing the analysis of the model, we conducted an exploratory analysis by studying the correlation of items and corrected item-total correlations (CITC), which measures the correlation among items of the same factor, thus determining to what extent indicators share the same meaning (Churchill, 1979). This analysis was necessary to validate the indicators of the women’s entrepreneurial profile construct, as this construct did not feature a scale validated in the literature. Therefore, we formulated the aforementioned questions. According to the suggestions of Simsion (2007), items with CITC values below 0.30 should be eliminated, but no indicator was eliminated by this criterion.

We then performed an exploratory factor analysis to identify whether the indicators of the construct had correlations among latent variables (factors). We chose the principal component analysis method to determine the factors, in addition to the Varimax rotation method. According to Hair et al. (2009), it is recommended that the factor load of each indicator should achieve a value higher than 0.70. Furthermore, the difference of the factor load is expected higher than 0.20 in adjacent constructs, and the communality of each indicator is expected to have a value higher than 0.50.

Following the exploratory factor analysis, we deleted the EP1 and EP5 indicators from the Women’s Entrepreneurial Profile construct due to failures in the divergent validation or reduced communality. Deleting these indicators did not compromise the recommendation of Werts, Linn and Jöreskog (1974), who advocate the maintenance of at least three items per construct to ensure satisfactory degrees of freedom for performing the factor analysis and verifying the unidimensionality of constructs.

Bartlett’s sphericity test was also performed with null significance value, in addition to the calculation of the measure of adequacy of the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin sample, whose index was equal to 0.979, a value considered satisfactory for further analyses (Hair et al., 2009).

We analysed the Cronbach’s alpha to verify the internal consistency of constructs. A high value of internal consistency in the construct indicates that all variables represent the same latent construct. For exploratory studies, values between 0.60 and 0.70 are considered acceptable (Nunally and Bernstein, 1994; Hair et al., 2017). In Table IV, we present the compared results of the reliability analysis of the indicators during the refinement of scales.

The exclusion of indicators to compose the final measuring instrument did not compromise the values of Cronbach’s alpha, which remained satisfactory. There were also improvements in item-total correlations of the indicators in the collection instrument for the final sample. The results obtained ensure the use of the adjusted measuring instrument.

For calculations and validations of the statistical tests, developed using the multivariate analysis technique of structural equation modelling, we used SmartPLS 3.0. M3 software (Ringle et al., 2015).

Description and analysis of results

We obtained 445 responses, of which 27 were discarded because the respondents did not complete the questionnaire. Therefore, 418 responses were considered valid. All the respondents lived in São Paulo, Brazil, owned a business and most had been entrepreneurs for at least 2 years. Most were aged between 25 and 34 years, had a college degree, were single and had no children. The characterization of the study sample is shown in Table V.

The research model only has reflective indicators, and internal consistency, reliability of the indicator, convergent and discriminant validity were the criteria used to evaluate reflective measurement models (Hair et al., 2017).

According to Hair et al. (2017), the value of the factor load of the indicator must be higher than or equal to 0.7 and higher than loads crossed with other constructs for the indicators to remain in the model. If the value of the factor load of the indicator is lower than 0.4, the indicator must be automatically deleted. However, no indicator was excluded from the model by this criterion.

Nevertheless, some indicators had factor loads lower than 0.7, but higher than 0.4. Therefore, we considered the suggestion of Hair et al. (2017) to analyse the impact of the exclusion of indicators with factorial loads higher than 0.4 and lower than 0.7 in terms of average variance extracted (AVE) and composite reliability.

From the analyses of the variations of AVE measurements and composite reliability with the exclusion of each indicator with a factorial load lower than 0.7, we chose to exclude the following indicators: IO4, IO5, PE2, PL2, SO3, LE2 and LE4.

Another indicator used for the convergent validation of the model was the AVE value, which, as a criterion for validation, must submit a value higher than 0.5 (Hair et al., 2011).

To evaluate the measurement model, we used the composite reliability of each construct (Hair et al., 2009; Hair et al., 2017). Composite reliability describes the degree to which the indicators represent a common latent construct. A value frequently used as a reference for acceptable reliability is 0.70.

We also analysed the internal consistency of the construct. A high value indicates that all variables represent the same latent construct. Internal consistency is evaluated using Cronbach’s alpha, which varies from 0 to 1, with high values indicating a higher level of consistency. For exploratory studies, values between 0.60 and 0.70 are considered acceptable. On the other hand, for studies at more advanced stages, values between 0.70 and 0.90 are considered satisfactory (Nunally and Bernstein, 1994; Hair et al., 2017).

We also evaluated the discriminant validity between the constructs by calculating the square root of the average variance extracted of the constructs. This value must be higher than the correlation between latent variables (Fornell and Larcker, 1981).

All the aforementioned indicators are presented in Table VI, and are within the parameters established by the authors. The value presented diagonally and in bold is the square root of the AVE.

To evaluate the structural model, we first had to evaluate the collinearity. To do so, we analysed values of tolerance and the variance inflation factor (VIF) for each subpart of the structural model. All values are within the parameters established by Hair et al. (2017), with the tolerance value above 0.2 and the VIF below 5.

The bootstrapping technique was used to analyse the significance of the indicators, in accordance with Efron and Tibshirani (1998). The use of the bootstrapping technique to analyse the significance of the factor loads obtained for the observable variables is not based on one estimation of the model, but it also calculates estimates of parameters and their confidence intervals based on multiple estimates (Hair et al., 2009; Hair et al., 2017).

Student’s t-test analyses the hypothesis that the coefficients of correlation are equal to zero. If the results of this test indicate values higher than 1.96, the null hypothesis is rejected, and the correlation is significant (Efron and Tibshirani, 1998; Hair et al., 2017).

Table VII shows the values of coefficients between the constructs and their respective Student’s t-test. The values were also estimated using the bootstrapping technique. All values of the relations presented Student’s t-test values higher than 1.96 (significance level = 5 per cent).

The assessment of the coefficient of determination (r2) was based on studies by Cohen (1988) and Faul et al. (2009), who determined that f2 values equal to 0.02, 0.15 and 0.35 are considered, respectively, as small, medium and large effects. These f2 values had values of r2 equal to 2, 13 and 25 per cent, respectively.

According to the responses, the entrepreneurial intention construct presented r2 = 0.566, considered high, and the women’s entrepreneurial profile construct presented r2 = 0.741, also considered high. The model resulting from the research is presented in Figure 2.

Furthermore, we evaluated the Q2 value, which is an important indicator of the predictive relevance of the model. The Q2 measure applies a technique of example reusing that omits part of the data matrix and uses the model estimates to predict the omitted part. Specifically, when a PLS-SEM model presents predictive relevance, it accurately predicts the data points of the indicators in reflective measurement models (Hair et al., 2017). Table VIII shows the values of r2, adjusted r2 and Q2.

For SEM models, Q2 values higher than zero for a specific reflective endogenous latent variable indicate the predictive relevance of the path model. All values are considered adequate, as shown in Table VII.

Table IX contains a summary of the statistical validations of the hypotheses of our study.

Discussion of results

With this study, we first sought to understand which entrepreneurial characteristics could comprise women’s entrepreneurial profile. From the analysis of the five characteristics considered in the study, we found that the categories of behaviours tested in the model that most influence women’s entrepreneurial profile, in order of importance are planning, identifying opportunities, being social and leading. This not only provides an answer to our research questions but also makes clear which characteristics are most important. It is noteworthy that being persistent was not confirmed. Although some studies (Markman and Baron, 2003; Schmidt and Bohnenberger, 2009) confirm that persistence is a characteristic necessary for success in entrepreneurship, this was not confirmed in the present study, raising the need for further studies to explore the associated implications more deeply.

Considering the three main groups of characteristics in the study by Mohammed et al. (2017), namely, accelerating business growth by identifying opportunities, organizational skills and strategic posture, we see that planning and identifying opportunities are the two categories that correlate to this other study.

Blackburn et al. (2013), Filion (2000) and McClelland (1965) mention planning as part of the entrepreneurial profile, which was also confirmed in the particular case of the profile of women entrepreneurs. It should especially be highlighted that the study conducted by McClelland (1965) looked at a male sample. Therefore, the characteristic considered by this author at the time as part of the profile of male entrepreneurs can now also be considered as part of the profile of women entrepreneurs.

This study confirms the mainstream that identifying opportunities is one of the behavioural categories that promote the entrepreneurial profile. This characteristic was confirmed in a number of previous studies, such as those of Coda et al. (2018), Jamali (2009), Markman and Baron (2003) and Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009), and confirmed in the present study as part of the profile of women entrepreneurs.

Women were considered relational in the study of Foss (2010). Although being social was tested in the present study, the tendency of the profile of women entrepreneurs to feature these behaviours should be highlighted, despite the findings of Foss (2010) regarding the generation of weak nodes by women when it comes to generating social networks. Other studies focussing on Brazilians (Rocha and Freitas, 2014; Schmidt and Bohnenberger, 2009) consider sociability as part of the construction of an entrepreneurial profile, in keeping with the findings here. However, the Itaú Mulher Empreendedora (2017) report [Itaú Entrepreneurial Woman] states the contrary, suggesting further studies to confirm this kind of results.

Kaur and Bains (2013) listed leadership, understood as dealing people, as a particular category of the profile of female entrepreneurs, which was also a finding of this study.

We also aimed to evaluate the relationship between constructs of women’s entrepreneurial profile and entrepreneurial intention. The model explains 74.1 per cent (r2) of the variance of women’s entrepreneurial profile construct and 56.6 per cent (r2) of the variance of entrepreneurial intention construct, values considered high for research in social sciences. Hence, the hypothesis that women’s entrepreneurial profile positively influences entrepreneurial intention was confirmed. This result was obtained due to the validation in our study of the relationship between both constructs, through exploratory factor analysis and confirmed by structural equation modelling. Thus, we can say that the higher the women’s entrepreneurial profile, the greater their entrepreneurial intention. This result answers the call of Fayolle and Liñán (2014), showing that a relationship does indeed exist between entrepreneurial profile and entrepreneurial intention.

This confirmation is also consistent with previous studies such as those of Díaz-García and Jiménez-Moreno (2010), Gupta et al. (2009) and Jamali (2009), which state that behavioural characteristics that compose the entrepreneurial profile influence the entrepreneurial intention of women and that such characteristics are endogenous in nature.


The study sought to identify which entrepreneurial behaviours can be considered as specific to women’s entrepreneurial profile, understanding that many of the behavioural characteristics listed in the literature as belonging to an entrepreneurial profile were researched in a universe that was predominantly masculine, a recurring theme in several studies analysed and discussed in this study. Our study focussed on five of the characteristics tested by Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009) in a generic universe, with four of them identified in the profile of the female entrepreneur. In addition to this, the relationship between entrepreneurial profile and intention was tested, as suggested by Fayolle and Liñán (2014), and our findings corroborated this study in the sense that this relationship does indeed exist.

We used indicators proposed and validated by the scale of Santos (2008) for measuring entrepreneurial characteristics, and the contribution of our study was to validate these indicators in the context of women entrepreneurs. The study made progress in the sense that it sought to establish relationships between features of the original model and women’s entrepreneurial profile, resulting in a second model, indicating those that are effectively related. Furthermore, it assessed the impact of women’s entrepreneurial profile on their actual entrepreneurial intention. We consider that our research presented a robust model with high explanatory value, with the important contribution of developing a validated scale for women’s entrepreneurial profile.

Moreover, concluding this research, we perceived that understanding women’s entrepreneurial profile could help to shape training programs aimed at developing and fostering entrepreneurship among women, as well as providing an evaluation tool to help women perceive whether their behavioural profile is suited to entering the world of entrepreneurship and embracing its challenges, thus aiding them to make effective career choices.

The study also contributes to the women’s entrepreneurship literature from the perspective of a Latin American developing country, offering valuable insights on the impact of entrepreneurial behavioural profile on women’s entrepreneurial decision.

As in all scientific research, operational and methodological limitations were perceived: The sample was intentional, of a nonprobability type, which limits the generalization of the findings to all Brazilian entrepreneurs. However, it represents a scope of that particular group of entrepreneurs. Most respondents were from the Southeast region and attended events intended for entrepreneurs. Moreover, the survey was conducted with a single cross-section, limited to a short time. There may also have been cognitive limitations on the part of the researchers and groups of specialists when developing the theoretical model and the construction of some indicators.

Furthermore, the statistical technique did not consider some new tests presented by Hair et al. (2018), such as the Heterotrait–Monotrait ratio (HTMT), goodness-of-fit measures in PLS-SEM (Dijkstra and Henseler, 2015), the normed fit index (NFI) or Bentler–Bonett index, standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) and observed and unobserved heterogeneity. These tests could lend more robustness to the results.

After observing in the literature that two of the main motivators for women to start their own business are flexibility and the need to look after their families, we suggest that further studies be conducted to understand this relationship, as most of the respondents in this study were single and had no children. This is consistent with the findings of previous studies and therefore requires an in-depth investigation. Other possibilities for further studies would be to conduct qualitative research to determine the motivations of some relationships of influence and longitudinal studies to test high order constructs with PLS-SEM to verify the entrepreneurial profile directly with entrepreneurial characteristics. A further suggestion would be to validate the theoretical model with other groups, such as age, marital status and having children, to gauge whether there actually is a difference between them.

We also recommend further studies with qualitative methods, aiming to understand the non-confirmation of persistence as part of the profile of women entrepreneurs and sociability, which, although confirmed in the present research, presents contradictory results in other studies.


Conceptual model of the study

Figure 1.

Conceptual model of the study

Model resulting from research

Figure 2.

Model resulting from research

Characteristics of the entrepreneurial profile considered in the conceptual model of the study

Characteristics Description Conceptual basis
Identifying opportunities Ability to identify, explore, and grasp values of business opportunities Markman and Baron (2003), Jamali (2009); Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009), Rocha and Freitas (2014)
Persistence Ability to work intensively on projects of uncertain return. Development of self-awareness focussing on perseverance Markman and Baron (2003), Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009); Rocha and Freitas (2014)
Planning People who prepare for the future. People who arrange the activities required to achieve a certain goal Blackburn et al. (2013), Filion (2000); McClelland (1965), Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009)
Sociability Degree of social network use to support professional activities Markman and Baron (2003), Sarasvathy and Venkataraman (2011); Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009), Rocha and Freitas (2014)
Leadership People who, through their own goals, influence others to adopt this goal voluntarily Filion (2000), Schmidt and Bohnenberger (2009); Rocha and Freitas (2014)

Study hypotheses

Hypotheses Description
H1 Identifying opportunities positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile
H2 Being persistent positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile
H3 Planning positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile
H4 Using social networks positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile
H5 Leading positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile
H6 Women’s entrepreneurial profile positively influences entrepreneurial intention

Research questionnaire

Entrepreneurial characteristics Indicator Question
Identifying opportunities IO1 I understand the needs of others and how they can be met
IO2 I like learning about the needs of people
IO3 I am always up to any opportunity that may arise
IO4 I feel able to identify business opportunities and profit from them
IO5 I sincerely believe that the opportunities are there to be identified
Persistence PE1 I understand that there are obstacles to be overcome
PE2 When I fall, I get up and keep going
PE3 When I make a planning mistake, I redo things and move forward
PE4 I see failure as a way of learning not to make the same mistake again
PE5 I do not let failure get me down
Planning PL1 I set my goal and set out in detail all the steps I must take
PL2 I clearly set my goals and aims
PL3 I cannot do anything without detailed planning
PL4 Those who cannot plan their activities tend to fail
PL5 All I know is that I will do ok if I plan my activities
Sociability SO1 I seek to establish a good network of relationships with acquaintances, friends and people who can be useful to me
SO2 I try to maintain constant contact with people in my network of relationships
SO3 I am able to maintain constant contact with people in my network of relationships
SO4 Whenever possible I try to comply with requests that people in my relationship network make
Leadership LE1 I can convince people to overcome conflicts and work as a team to achieve a particular result
LE2 I am able to encourage people to perform tasks for which they are unmotivated
LE3 I know the right words and actions to encourage people
LE4 I have ways of convincing people to change their minds
LE5 I act to motivate people and maintain high morale in any situation
Women’s entrepreneurial profile EP1 Women entrepreneurs are more creative and realistic
EP2 Women entrepreneurs are more enthusiastic and energetic
EP3 Women entrepreneurs have good skills for dealing with the socioeconomic environment
EP4 Women are more careful when talking to other people
EP5 Women are more prone to interactive leadership
EP6 Women leaders propose a more enriching conviviality between family and work
Entrepreneurial intention EI1 I am sure one day I will have my own business
EI2 Even though I work for others, I will not lose my will to have my own business
EI3 My greatest achievement will be to have my own business
EI4 Being an entrepreneur has always been my aspiration

Reliability analysis and item-total correlations of constructs

Constructs Cronbach’s alpha (before adjustments) Cronbach’s alpha (after adjustments) Quantity of items (after adjustment) CITC (before adjustments) CITC (after adjustments)
Women’s entrepreneurial profile 0.914 0.919 5 0.513 - 0.788 0.722 - 0.801

Respondents’ profile

Item Indicator (%) (approx.)
Age Under 18 02
18 to 24 11
25 to 34 62
35 to 44 19
45 years or older 06
Have children Yes 19
No 81
Marital status Single 59
Married/Common-law marriage 38
Other 03
Education level Completed or partly completed Elementary School 03
High School 03
College Degree 73
Graduate Studies 21
Time as entrepreneur Up to 1 year 29
Between 1 and 2 years 51
Between 2 and 5 years 12
Between 6 and 10 years 02
Other 06

Summary of the evaluation of the measurement models

Constructs EI LE IO PE EP PL SO
EI 0.802
LE 0.670 0.846
IO 0.763 0.789 0.851
PE 0.735 0.732 0.815 0.858
EP 0.753 0.773 0.801 0.748 0.846
PL 0.705 0.785 0.782 0.753 0.794 0.857
SO 0.708 0.838 0.815 0.748 0.785 0.769 0.856
Cronbach’s alpha 0.814 0.802 0.810 0.881 0.900 0.880 0.817
Composite reliability 0.877 0.883 0.887 0.918 0.926 0.917 0.891
Average variance extracted 0.643 0.716 0.725 0.736 0.715 0.735 0.732

Coefficients of the structural model – between constructs

Indicators Mean Standard error t value p value
Leadership → Entrepreneurial Profise 0.127 0.056 2256 0.024
Identifying Opportunities → Entrepreneurial Profile 0.243 0.064 3,805 0.000
Persistence → Entrepreneurial Profile 0.109 0.059 1,783 0.748
Planning → Entrepreneurial Profile 0.753 0.024 31,113 0.000
Sociability → Entrepreneurial Profile 0.278 0.061 4,574 0.000
Entrepreneurial Profile → Entrepreneurial Intention 0.184 0.054 3,360 0.001

Results of the r2 and Q2 values

Indicators r2 Adjusted r2 Q2
Entrepreneurial intention 0.566 0.565 0.338
Entrepreneurial profile 0.741 0.738 0.500

Summary of validations of hypotheses of our study

Hypotheses Description Result
H1 Identifying opportunities positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile Confirmed
H2 Being persistent positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile Unconfirmed
H3 Planning positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile Confirmed
H4 Using social networks positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile Confirmed
H5 Leading positively influences women’s entrepreneurial profile Confirmed
H6 Women’s entrepreneurial profile positively influences entrepreneurial intention Confirmed


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Further reading

Arshad, M., Farooq, O., Sultana, N. and Farooq, M. (2016), “Determinants of individuals’ entrepreneurial intentions: a gender-comparative study”, Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 318-339, available at:

Moraes, G.H.S.M., ; Iizuka, E.S. and Pedro, M. (2018), “Effects of entrepreneurial characteristics and university environment on entrepreneurial intention”, Revista de Administração Contemporânea, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 226-248, available at:

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Corresponding author

Patricia Viveiros de Castro Krakauer can be contacted at: