Vartuhi Tonoyan, Robert Strohmeyer, Jennifer E. Jennings
Gender Gaps in Perceived Start-up Ease: Implications of Sex-based Labor Market Segregation for Entrepreneurship across 22 European Countries

Administrative Science Quarterly, 2020: 65, issue 1, pp. 181-225
ISSN: 0001-8392 (print); 1930-3815 (online)

Although scholars have long recognized the consequences of sex-based labor market segregation for gendered outcomes in conventional wage-and-salary employment, comparatively little is known about the implications for entrepreneurship. We call attention to implications stemming from manifestations at distinct levels of analysis, specifically to the differential structural positions that men and women are likely to occupy as employees and to the degree of sex-based labor market segregation in a country overall. We hypothesize that the gendering of labor market positions will have the first-order effect of reducing women’s likelihood of acquiring entrepreneurship-relevant resources, experiencing entrepreneurial career previews, and being exposed to industry opportunity spaces for launching new firms, which will have the second-order effect of lowering their start-up ease perceptions relative to men’s. We further suggest that this gender gap will widen in societies with more highly sex-segregated labor markets. Data from 15,742 employees in 22 European countries provide strong support for these claims. By demonstrating how pre-entry assessments of entrepreneurship are influenced by gendered employment experiences at the individual level and gendered labor market regimes at the country level, this study lays a foundation for further multilevel research on the relationship between institutionalized labor market practices and entrepreneurial activity.