A Different World

A new study highlights the differences between male and female entrepreneurs.
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This story appears in the July 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's a well-known fact that men and women run their businesses differently, but exactly how entrepreneurial behaviors differ is less understood. To shed some light on the matter, Brooke R. Envick, an assistant professor of management at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, recently released the results of her study, Behaviors of Entrepreneurs: A Gender Comparison.

While previous studies examined only the psychological differences between the sexes based on self-reported data, Envick observed eight behaviors in her study: planning, controlling, internal communication, human resources management, work-related tasks, customer service, networking and on-the-job personal time.

One of Envick's most surprising findings was that controlling behavior, previously considered a male-dominant trait, was actually more prevalent in female entrepreneurs. "I've looked through [previous corporate management studies] and found complete support for the [idea] that men are more assertive and controlling," Envick says. "But in this study, females were more controlling." Her explanation? "Female entrepreneurs are motivated by the desire to have control, so it makes sense that [control] is exhibited at work."

Envick also discovered that male entrepreneurs use more on-the-job time for personal matters (reading the newspaper, visiting with drop-in guests, etc.) than their female counterparts, and that overall, male and female entrepreneurs exhibit similar planning, customer service and networking behaviors.

Says Envick, "I think [the results] clearly show that females can succeed as entrepreneurs, but they may succeed in a different way."

Best Behaviors

Women entrepreneurs engage in the following more often than their male counterparts:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Internal communication
  • Human resources management
  • General work-related tasks


Edition: July 2017

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