Bridging th Entrepreneurial and Technology Gap for Women

Bridging th Entrepreneurial and Technology Gap for Women

Briga Hynes (University of Limerick, Ireland) and Ita Richardson (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch013
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Abstract

In the early 21st century, there continues to be an unbalanced ratio of males to females both studying for and in technological positions in Ireland. For example, computer science is a relatively new discipline. It was hoped that in such disciplines women could establish themselves and would “break new ground in professional access and equity for women” (Pearl, 1995, p. 26). This has not been the case. It is generally accepted that about 20% or less of places in engineering and technology (E&T) courses in Irish third-level colleges are filled by women (Richardson, O’Brien, & Moore, 2002). Furthermore, as a result of low levels of female participation in E&T jobs, there are corresponding low levels of female participation in technical self-employment. Women in Ireland are 2.6 times less likely to start a business than their male colleagues; females in Ireland are more averse to risk taking and are cautious (Fitzsimons, O’Gorman, & Roche, 2003). This can be attributed to gender-generic factors (Hynes, 1996). These factors include personal profiles, situational and personality characteristics, and self-belief that manifest as barriers to female participation in enterprising activity (GEM, 2004). To overcome this scarcity of technological knowledgeable females in self-employment, it is necessary to determine the source of this problem. This is achieved by interlinking research in these two topics, which are generally researched independently, but when researched together, they add value to and inform the debate in the Irish context. The research involves the identification of the sources of these barriers with a view of devising corrective interventions. It is suggested that the role of education is instrumental in overcoming these barriers. Consequently, in this article, we propose a framework that can be modified to suit the needs of female students.

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