The gender gap in entrepreneurship has typically been understood through women's structural disadvantages in acquiring the resources relevant for successful business ownership. This study builds on resource-based approaches to investigate how cultural beliefs about gender influence the process by which individuals initially come to identify entrepreneurship as a viable labor-market option. Drawing on status characteristics theory, this study evaluates (1) how cultural beliefs about gender and entrepreneurship influence self-assessments of entrepreneurial ability, and (2) the extent to which such assessments account for the gender gap in business start-ups. Results suggest that women are significantly less likely to perceive themselves as able to be an entrepreneur and they hold themselves to a stricter standard of competence when compared to similarly situated men. This gender difference in self-assessments accounts for a significant portion of the gender gap in entrepreneurship after controlling for relevant resources. Additional analyses reveal that significant gender differences in self-assessed ability persist among established business owners.
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