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News Story:

Women entrepreneurs’ success


Influence of gender roles in marriage on women entrepreneurs’ success
Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) professor Séverine Le Loarne’s latest research draws a striking parallel between a woman’s success as an entrepreneur and the perception of gender roles in her marriage.
GEM researcher Séverine Le Loarne believes that the relatively low number of women entrepreneurs is tied to deeply-rooted gender stereotypes and whether or not these stereotypes are shared by both partners in the marriage.
Le Loarne’s research identifies four configurations for gender stereotypes within the marriage and describes how each influences women entrepreneurs’ success.
Couples in which both partners believe in gender equality: success guaranteed
"In this case, a woman entrepreneur benefits from the support of her husband across the board, since both partners hold the same view of each other’s roles, both at home and in the business world. Women entrepreneurs in couples like this tend to thrive! The venture often brings in money, creates job, attracts investors, and generally succeeds,” explains Le Loarne.
Couples in which both partners believe in traditional gender roles: limited success
From an entrepreneurship point of view, the woman’s business tends to survive, but remains a single-employee venture and does not generate substantial revenue. "The woman sees her business as a sideline to her private life, and chooses not to make it a priority. She is above all seeking career fulfillment. Her husband supports her in this since her business does not impinge on ‘running the household’ in the broad sense of the term, and the couple continues to live in harmony.”
The woman believes in traditional gender roles and the man believes in gender equality: the marriage comes first
This situation is similar to the previous one. The woman considers her business a subsidiary activity, and a source of career fulfillment. She remains the business’ only employee and tends not to develop the business. Her husband supports her efforts unconditionally, since her entrepreneurial activity echoes the modern image he has of her.
The woman believes in gender equality and the man believes in traditional gender roles: prepare for growing pains
The woman’s business takes off, creates jobs, brings in good revenue, or attracts investors. But, because the partners do not share the same beliefs about gender roles, the marriage suffers from the woman’s success. "In this case, the husband does not give the support his entrepreneur wife hopes for, and the business only makes any existing tensions in the marriage worse,” says Le Loarne.
The findings shed light on a unique feature of women entrepreneurs, which is that they do not separate family life from business life. Women entrepreneurs do not target performance specifically but rather self-fulfillment through their business. Which is why Le Loarne seriously questions the "current concept of entrepreneurial success, which is seen exclusively from the point of view of financial performance and job creation. Just like community-based and cooperative businesses, businesses run by women offer an alternative perspective, and policymakers should take inspiration from this and foster the development of female-owned businesses.”
About Séverine Le Loarne
Séverine Le Loarne is a professor of innovation management at Grenoble Ecole de Management (international business school based in France) and an independent business director. She specializes in the impact of social constraints on business start-ups by individuals, and is currently researching businesses run by women. She has written a number of textbooks (including Manager l'innovation [Managing Innovation] published by Pearson) and is also co-author of the book Femme et entrepreneur, c'est possible ! (Yes, Women Can Start Businesses, Too!) also published by Pearson.
Her research on the role of marriage and the husband’s support in women entrepreneurship focused on a sample of twelve couples in which the woman is the entrepreneur (i.e., she runs a business that she has either created or taken over). The sample consists of couples living in the four Scandinavian countries.
Grenoble Ecole de Management