Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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Abstract Details

Evaluating the Gender Variations in Informal Sector Entrepreneurship: Some Lessons from Brazil
Vol. Volume 18 Number 1 March/2013

Colin C. Williams and Youssef Youssef
The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically the gender variations in informal sector entrepreneurship. Until now, a widely-held belief has been that entrepreneurs operating in the informal sector in developing nations are lowly paid, poorly educated marginalized populations doing so out of necessity as a survival strategy in the absence of alternatives. Reporting an extensive 2003 survey conducted in urban Brazil of informal sector entrepreneurs operating micro-enterprises with five or less employees, the finding is that although less than half of these entrepreneurs are driven out of necessity into entrepreneurial endeavor in the informal economy, women are more commonly necessity-driven entrepreneurs and receive lower incomes from their entrepreneurial endeavor than men despite being better educated. The outcome is a call to recognize how the gender disparities in the wider labor market are mirrored and reinforced by the participation of men and women in the realm of informal sector entrepreneurship.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; micro-enterprise; women; gender inequalities; small businesses; enterprise culture; informal sector; underground economy; shadow economy; Brazil