An Exploration of Female Undergraduates' Attitudes Towards and Perceptions of Entrepreneurship

Eileen Sinnott

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    The objective of this research was to add knowledge and insight to the very under researched topic of female undergraduates and their attitudes towards and perceptions of entrepreneurship. The reason for this research was to obtain a better understanding of why so few female undergraduates consider entrepreneurship as a career. This is of particular relevance in Ireland as female entrepreneurial activity is relatively low, therefore leading to the under utilisation of a potentially valuable resource in the economy. This lack of female business owners has particular significance as entrepreneurial activity has been recognised as a valuable means to help develop and sustain a country’s economic growth. The primary data for the research were gathered over a three week period, through the administration of a self-completion questionnaire delivered to 273 female undergraduate students from five of the six schools in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). This allowed for quantitative data analysis using SPSS. There are a number of interesting findings emerging from this research. Notably, there was almost unanimous agreement (97%) by students, who expressed a wish to own a business, that that they would like to be their own boss. They also perceived entrepreneurship as enabling them to do things their way and therefore allowing them to have more control over their lives. Interestingly, these students were also more likely to believe they had the business skills and knowledge required for business ownership than students who did not want to start a business. The most inhibiting factor for students who do not want to start a business is the fear of the risk involved. Strikingly, in contrast to students that want to start a business they perceive business ownership as giving them less control over their lives and therefore, believe it would be easier to work for someone else. Interestingly, 79% of these undergraduates expressed the belief that a good business support structure would encourage more women to start a business. When the attitudes and perceptions of the collective group of students (273) towards entrepreneurship were examined more interesting issues emerged. The most prominent being that one needs to be very determined and work extra hard to run a successful business. When one adds to this their belief that one requires special characteristics or traits to start a business, one can see how respondents may selfselect themselves out of entrepreneurship. The current research has highlighted some of the principal perceived advantages and disadvantages of female business ownership along with the prominent general attitudes and perceptions as expressed by female undergraduates towards entrepreneurship. Therefore, these findings have implications for academics, educators in entrepreneurship, policy makers, enterprise support agencies and future female entrepreneurs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • O'Gorman, William J., Supervisor
    • Tynan, Margaret, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


    • Entrepreneurship


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