An Evidence-Based Approach Towards Technology Workforce Expansion by Increasing Female Participation in STEM Entrepreneurship
Effective Years: 2021-2024
This is a collaborative project, with the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the lead institution and the University of Maryland as the partnering institution, to explore the entrepreneurial proclivity of undergraduate women majoring in STEM fields. The researchers propose a multi-method approach led by an interdisciplinary team to (1) identify factors that influence entrepreneurial proclivity and (2) develop and test interventions related to closing gender disparities in STEM entrepreneurship. The research includes the analysis of a comprehensive administrative database to identify mechanisms for potential interventions and field experiments to achieve greater gender parity in entrepreneurial career choices for STEM students. Results of the field experiments will be integrated with the database to produce outcome measures. The project will produce empirical evidence to increase the understanding of student entrepreneurship and inform interventions that improve entrepreneurship participation for women in STEM.
The researchers will frame the research design and methods using the Individual-Opportunity Nexus theory that knowledge is a precursor to entrepreneurship. There are four hypotheses: (1) Greater entrepreneurial proclivity will be found in women in STEM fields with higher curriculum diversity, who have taken at least one business class, who are enrolled in STEM courses with students with higher diversity in their courses, and who are enrolled in STEM courses with students who have taken one or more business classes. (2) Women STEM students demonstrate higher entrepreneurial proclivity when they are exposed to relatable role models in entrepreneurship. (3) Women STEM students demonstrate higher entrepreneurial proclivity when entrepreneurship is presented as a gender-neutral field. (4) Women STEM students demonstrate higher entrepreneurial proclivity when they are exposed to entrepreneurial success stories. The researchers will make causal inferences about factors that influence entrepreneurial proclivity of women in STEM by measuring self-reported activities, analyzing administrative data, and documenting student start-ups. The core of the project is based on data drawn from a data infrastructure that combines administrative data with results of an annual survey. The researchers will use those data to evaluate the mechanisms that influence the underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship. They will augment the data infrastructure with a field experiment to test hypotheses informed by existing literature and findings from their data analysis.
This project is co-supported by the EHR Core Research program that funds fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development and by the Science of Science BPINNOVATE program.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.