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Context, gender and entrepreneurial intentions: How entrepreneurship education changes the equation

Anne Rienke van Ewijk (College of Business, Abu Dhabi University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Sophia Belghiti-Mahut (College of Business, Abu Dhabi University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates and Universite Paul-Valery Montpellier, Montpellier, France)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 7 February 2019

Issue publication date: 12 March 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore how gender differences in entrepreneurial intentions (EI) change when entrepreneurship education (EE) is added to the force field of macro-social stimulants and inhibitors of female EI in the particular context of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a pre-post survey with entrepreneurship students and students with a similar profile enrolled in other courses (N = 246) at three universities. The three main hypotheses are evaluated through independent-samples t-tests and a hierarchical multiple regression analysis.

Findings

The findings indicate a negative effect of gender stereotypes on female students’ EI in the UAE, regardless of the course type. Furthermore, entrepreneurship courses appear to be more successful than other courses in raising the EI of students in general and female students in particular. Finally, adding EE to the equation of macro-social inhibitors and stimulants of female EI in the UAE seems to tip the balance in favor of the influence of economic affluence, rapid modernization and proactive governmental policies to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit among female residents. That is, at the end of the entrepreneurship courses, there was no significant gender difference in EI anymore and female students are significantly more likely to experience a positive change in EI than male students.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review identifies the need for future studies to evaluate the impact of variability in sampling and methods among previous studies on gender effects in EE. Building on the findings, future studies could identify which aspects of EE are pivotal for customizing female students’ specific local interests and needs. The study is limited in the sense that the data set did not enable tests of moderators at the course level (which mostly requires more qualitative data) and individual level. In addition, the sample is not representative for all female residents in the UAE at large.

Practical implications

This study might stimulate (UAE) policymakers to increase the scope and quality of EE. In turn, university administrators are recommended to find ways to compensate the self-selection effect (overcome likely opt-out by female students) when entrepreneurship courses are elective.

Originality/value

This exploration was inspired by the strong emphasis that Julie Weeks put on the gendered impact of macro-level factors in business enabling environments (Weeks, 2011). The empirical analysis builds on a conceptual framework that integrates Krueger’s model of EI, theory on gender stereotypes in entrepreneurship and previous literature on the role of EE (reinforcing or mitigating stereotypes). The study is executed in the relatively unexplored context of the UAE, which offers strong macro-social inhibitors for ánd stimulants of female entrepreneurship.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study is based on data extracted from an international research project regarding the impact of EE funded by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs of Abu Dhabi University with a “faculty research incentive grant” awarded to Dr. Anne R. van Ewijk in the academic year of 2015-2016. In particular, the authors would like to express gratitude towards Dr Sara Carter for her professionalism in handling the manuscript and the anonymous peer reviewers of the IJGE who provided us with valuable constructive feedback that helped to improve the manuscript substantially.

Citation

van Ewijk, A.R. and Belghiti-Mahut, S. (2018), "Context, gender and entrepreneurial intentions: How entrepreneurship education changes the equation", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 75-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJGE-05-2018-0054

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited