SOTA Review

Is Time Up for The Hero Male Entrepreneur? A Review of Enterprise Discourse and its Effects.

ERC SOTA Review No 34

Associated Themes
  • Diversity
  • Entrepreneurship

The contemporary stereotypical entrepreneur is typically characterised as a middle-class, middle-aged, white male (McAdam, 2012) leading a high-growth, high turnover enterprise. In reality, most UK businesses are home based, micro or small firms owned and managed by families, partners or teams, very few of which will ever exhibit sustained growth (Anyadike-danes, Hart and Du, 2013). This stereotype is also highly gendered, with ideal entrepreneurial characteristics closely reflecting those ascribed to men and masculinity (Ahl and Marlow, 2012).
The portrayal of the typical entrepreneur as a high-performing male suggests women do not fit the preferred entrepreneurial prototype (McAdam, 2012) as they lack essential characteristics such as aggression, risk taking and competiveness. This argument forms a popular and policy rationale for why women are significantly less likely than men to create and lead new entrepreneurial ventures. Thus, women are encouraged to ‘step-up’ to this prototype by undertaking training and emulating role models to become more self-confident, ambitious and risk tolerant to unleash their entrepreneurial capabilities (Deloitte, 2016). In becoming more like the prototypical ‘hero male entrepreneur’ (Marlow, 2014) women will be able to create more new ventures, enhance their productivity and contribute to employment and wealth creation. This SOTA review considers the evidence that exists on the effects and implications of a masculine entrepreneurial discourse across entrepreneurship education, enterprise policy and practice.