The Entrepreneurial Puzzle: Explaining the Gender Gap

25 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2007

See all articles by Paula E. Stephan

Paula E. Stephan

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Asmaa A ElGanainy

International Monetary Fund (IMF); Georgia State University

Date Written: July 2006


We document the substantial gender gap that exists among university scientists with regard to entrepreneurial activity using a variety of measures and explore factors leading to the disparity. We focus particularly on the biomedical sciences. The contextual explanation that women are under-represented in the types of positions from which faculty typically launch entrepreneurial activity is the most obvious. But the data suggest that for the biomedical sciences context is not sufficient in explaining the entrepreneurial gap. We look elsewhere to factors affecting supply and factors affecting demand. The former include gender differences in attitudes towards risk, competition, "selling" of science, type of research and geographic location. The latter include the role of networks, preferences of venture capitalists and "gender discounting." We explore the associated hypotheses. We provide few tests and conclude that the research agenda is wide open and interesting.

Keywords: Entrepreneur, technology transfer, gender differences, venture capital, scientific productivity

JEL Classification: O31, O34, O38, J44, J71

Suggested Citation

Stephan, Paula E. and El-Ganainy, Asmaa and El-Ganainy, Asmaa, The Entrepreneurial Puzzle: Explaining the Gender Gap (July 2006). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 07-09, Available at SSRN: or

Paula E. Stephan (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Asmaa El-Ganainy

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

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