The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 475–487 | Cite as

The entrepreneurial puzzle: explaining the gender gap



We document the substantial gender gap that exists among university scientists with regard to entrepreneurial activity using a variety of measures and explore factors leading to the disparity. We focus particularly on the biomedical sciences. The contextual explanation that women are under-represented in the types of positions from which faculty typically launch entrepreneurial activity is the most obvious. But the data suggest that for the biomedical sciences context is not sufficient in explaining the entrepreneurial gap. We look elsewhere to factors affecting supply and factors affecting demand. The former include gender differences in attitudes towards risk, competition, “selling” of “science,” type of research and geographic location. The latter include the role of networks, preferences of venture capitalists and “gender discounting.” We explore the associated hypotheses. We provide few tests and conclude that the research agenda is wide open and interesting.


Entrepreneur Technology transfer Gender differences Venture capital Scientific productivity 

JEL Classifications

O31 O34 O38 J44 J71 



The authors would like to thank Grant Black for his assistance in using the SDR data, Fiona Murray for sharing her “Big School” research with us and Bill Amis for his helpful comments. The authors would also like to thank the Kauffman Foundation for their encouragement and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Andrew Young School of Policy StudiesGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.International Monetary FundWashington DCUSA

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