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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research

Yes I Can! - A Field Experiment on Female Role Model Effects in Entrepreneurship

This project investigates how exposure to female entrepreneurs influences the development of entrepreneurial self-efficacy, attitudes and intentions among female students. In two consecutive years, we conducted a field experiment in a large entrepreneurship course for undergraduate students. The combination of a mandatory course, and random assignment of students to teams and founders, allows us to draw causal inferences about the impact of female entrepreneurial role models. The results include data from 547 students and 98 entrepreneurs. The findings provide robust evidence that role model effects do not only occur by chance, but can be purposefully triggered in an educational setting. Exposure to female entrepreneurs particularly boosts the development of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and attitudes towards entrepreneurship of female students. Further, we find that if entrepreneurs signal high levels of supportiveness, the importance of working with a same-gender entrepreneur decreases.

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Laura Bechthold

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