It is widely accepted that there is a strong need to increase the numbers of women participating in entrepreneurship. It is well publicised in Ireland that there is a small number of women choosing entrepreneurship as a career. There is also evidence to show that certain early socialisation experiences influence women’s entrepreneurial intentions. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine the influence of four early socialisation influences; family, education, social class and media; on the decision of females to become entrepreneurs. The primary research for this study was conducted on a sample of eight female entrepreneurs based in South East Ireland. This involved examining the influence of four socialisation agents on these female entrepreneurs, exploring the nature of the impact of these influences and determining whether common socialising stimuli exist among these female entrepreneurs. Underpinned by phenomenological philosophy, the current study was conducted using a qualitative approach. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect the primary data, allowing the researcher to gain a truer understanding of the socialisation experiences of the respondents. The research identified some important findings relating to the nature of these socialisation influences. Firstly, contrary to previous research which indicated that media is a major socialisation influence (Seaton, 2006), this current study found that media had no impact. However, the study did affirm that role models are an important influence for female entrepreneurs and that there is a distinct lack of visibility of high profile role models in the Irish media. Family emerged as a powerful socialisation influence with the respondents stating that factors such as entrepreneurial family members, having responsibility in the home from an early age and family support as key influencers in their decision to start an enterprise. Social class was a key influence on the decision of females in this study to become entrepreneurs. The respondents’ social backgrounds offered them access to financial and human capital, such as lifestyle, education and exposure to success, which were deemed highly influential. According to this current research, the formal aspect of post-primary education did not impact on the respondents’ decision to start an enterprise however the informal aspect, such as extra-curricular activity and participation in sports, was a positive influence. This study adds to the growing body of literature on female entrepreneurship in general, whilst contributing specifically to the field of study focused on understanding the female entrepreneur. This research provides an understanding of the nature of the influence of four socialisation agents on the decision of females to become entrepreneurs, whilst also identifying the reasoning behind why these influences had an impact. This current research has implications for academics, educators, policy-makers, support agencies and future female entrepreneurs.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2008|