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Gender differences in the entrepreneurial ladder: evidence for Latin America

Luisa Fernanda Bernat (Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia)
German Lambardi (Department of Economics, Universidad Icesi, Cali, Colombia)
Paola Palacios (Department of Economics, Universidad Icesi, Cali, Colombia)

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2053-4604

Article publication date: 27 April 2022

Issue publication date: 31 October 2023




The main objective of this paper is to identify the factors associated with a successful transition through the entrepreneurial ladder for both men and women in a sample of nine Latin American countries.


The authors classify individuals according to five categories of increasing entrepreneurial engagement and estimate separate generalized ordered logit models to account for possible gender differences. Compared to previous literature, this is a more efficient methodology that allows us to identify the factors that have a significant and persistent relationship across stages and those that are only significant to specific engagement levels.


The authors find that factors such as parent business ownership, access to loans and autonomy increase the probability of progressing in the entrepreneurial ladder for both men and women and through all the stages. The authors also find that span of activity and the proxy for income increase the likelihood of moving to the next stages only for men, while higher education and autonomy do so only for women.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to identify the factors promoting progress through the different stages of the entrepreneurial ladder in Latin America. Separate regressions for women and men provide insight into the differential role of each variable by gender. Results from this study suggest that the gender dimension, currently absent in most policies, should be incorporated or strengthened in the design of entrepreneurship promotion programs in Latin America.



Authors would like to thank the participants at the 2017 ICSB World Entrepreneurship Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the participants at the 2018 edition of the GW ICSB Entrepreneurship Conference held in Washington DC, USA for their valuable comments and suggestions. Authors acknowledge the financial support they have received from Universidad Icesi and Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. The usual disclaimer applies.

Funding: Universidad Icesi, Cali, Colombia and Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogota, Colombia funded this study.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Bernat, L.F., Lambardi, G. and Palacios, P. (2023), "Gender differences in the entrepreneurial ladder: evidence for Latin America", Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 1293-1312.



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