Personality and the gender gap in self-employment: a multi-nation study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

August 15, 2014


What role does personality play in the pervasive gender gap in
entrepreneurship across the globe? This two-study analysis focuses on
self-employment in the working population and underlying gender
differences in personality characteristics, thereby considering both
single trait dimensions as well as a holistic, configural personality
approach. Applying the five-factor model of personality, Study 1, our
main study, investigates mediation models in the prediction of
self-employment status utilizing self-reported personality data from
large-scaled longitudinal datasets collected in the U.S., Germany, the
U.K., and Australia (total N = 28,762). Study 2 analyzes (observer-rated) Big Five data collected in 51 cultures (total N
= 12,156) to take a more global perspective and to explore the
pancultural universality of gender differences in entrepreneurial
personality characteristics. Across the four countries investigated in
Study 1, none of the major five dimension of personality turned out as a
consistent and robust mediator. In contrast, the holistic, configural
approach yielded consistent and robust mediation results. Across the
four countries, males scored higher on an entrepreneurship-prone
personality profile, which in turn predicted self-employment status.
These results suggest that gender differences in the intra-individual
configuration of personality traits contribute to the gender gap in
entrepreneurship across the globe. With the restriction of limited
representativeness, the data from Study 2 suggest that the gender
difference in the entrepreneurship-prone personality profile (males
score higher) is widespread across many cultures, but may not exist in
all. The results are discussed with an emphasis on implications for
research and practice, which a particular focus on the need for more
complex models that incorporate the role of personality.

Published in



Volume: 9




Open Access journal



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