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What drives women out of entrepreneurship? The joint role of testosterone and culture

  • Luigi Guiso
  • Aldo Rustichini

The ratio of second to fourth digit (2D4D) has been shown to correlate negatively with entrepreneurial skills and financial success. We document that in a sample of entrepreneurs women have a lower 2D4D ratio than men, in sharp contrast with the features of the distribution in random samples. Exploiting variation across communities in indices correlated with women emancipation, we show that in regions where women are less emancipated their average DR is lower than that of men compared to regions with higher indices. This finding is consistent with the existence of gender related obstacles into entrepreneurship so that only women with well above average entrepreneurial skills find it attractive to self-select into entrepreneurship. This finding can rationalize three facts: a) fewer women than men are entrepreneurs; b) the proportion of women among entrepreneurs tends to be higher in countries with higher women emancipation; c) women who break the barrier into entrepreneurship seem to show more masculine traits. We also find that once women enter entrepreneurship, they are equally able than man to translate their ability into outcomes for the firm.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2011/02.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2011/02
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  1. Luigi Guiso & Fabiano Schivardi, 2007. "What determines entrepreneurial clusters?," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/48, European University Institute.
  2. Kimball, Miles S & Sahm, Claudia R & Shapiro, Matthew D, 2008. "Imputing Risk Tolerance From Survey Responses," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(483), pages 1028-1038.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2007. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/47, European University Institute.
  4. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Anna Dreber & Emma Essen & Eva Ranehill, 2011. "Outrunning the gender gap—boys and girls compete equally," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 567-582, November.
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