Women in Entrepreneurship Legal Resource Materials

Entrepreneurship Law Editorial Team



Abstract:  Women are amazingly adept at multi-tasking, balancing home and work and relationships, managing finances, and generally learning whatever is needed to get the job done or to take care of things. Why then do we get ourselves into avoidable legal messes? During Marilyn Barrett s more than twenty years of practicing law, she has found that women of all socioeconomic and educational levels consistently make certain mistakes that land them in an attorney s office. These legal messes can devastate them economically and emotionally, and make them desperate. This book describes - in plain, non-legalese language - the basic preventative measures women can take to avoid the following legal pitfalls when they fail to protect themselves and their children in - Legal title to property - Prenuptial agreements -Marriage and divorce - Starting and running a business -Paying taxes - Estate planning, and - Hiring attorneys. A comprehensive appendix of sample documents provides added protection. By using plain English and focusing on the general information women need to know, and telling women s stories that show how easy it is to get into a bad situation, Ms. Barrett becomes a pocket attorney for all women.

Marilyn Barrett, Just Sign Here, Honey: Women's 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes & How to Avoid Them (rev. ed. 2003).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): In this new revised edition of The Ten Biggest Legal Mistakes Women Can Avoid, a top woman lawyer tells all women how to use the law to their advantage. Revised and updated with a new chapter of the most often asked questions by women on their legal rights, this easy-to-read guide offers advice by a top woman lawyer on the basic preventative measures women can take to avoid legal pitfalls.

Kay Koplovitz & Peter Israel, Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High-Risk Entrepreneurial Game (2004).

Abstract (from Library Journal): An entrepreneur who founded the successful cable TV franchise USA Networks, Koplovitz later developed a nonprofit venture capital forum called Springboard, after learning that only 1.7 percent of the billions invested by venture capitalists in new businesses the previous year (1997) went to enterprises owned or led by women. In this book, she gives her expert advice on formulating a successful business plan or winning pitch and on sizing up today's investors. She uses examples of pioneering women entrepreneurs and provides inspiration and advice to anyone who wants to launch and finance a new business venture. The glossary and practical list of resources at the end of the book will help beginners get started learning about and finding venture capital.


Product Description (from Amazon):  Approximately eight million U.S businesses are currently women-owned, and the number is growing at twice the national average for all businesses. As one of the millions of aspiring female small business owners, you know that there are specific issues and questions that need to be addressed when you're setting up shop.

Dame Anita Roddick et al, Exceptional Entrepreneurship: Real-Life Lessons From Top Business Leaders (2007).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): Exceptional Entrepreneurship gives access to the personal stories of entrepreneurial giants in a pocketsize format. Their inspirational stories address the unique issues and obstacles that start-up businesses face, while showing the qualities needed to make a business successful. 

Russel R. Taylor, Exceptional Entrepreneurial Women: Strategies for Success (1988).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): Russel Taylor captures the entrepreneurial essence and risk-taking instincts that set apart the 15 women he has picked to profile in this highly enjoyable book. Executives of both sexes will find unique explanations of the success achieved by these dynamic ladies.


Dieter Boegenhold & Uwe Fachinger, Female Solo-Self-Employment between Need and Innovation Challenge: Observations on Gender and Entrepreneurship in Germany (2012), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2118141.

Abstract (by author): This paper combines conceptual thoughts on the development of self-employment within stratified modern societies with empirical reflections based on public census data for Germany. Talk about the rise and future of self-employment must be linked to the discussion about changes in the structure of occupations, labour markets and regulations. A fundamental question is how gender matters when investigating these trends. Do we find specific “gender patterns” within recent developments of an increasing expansion of self-employment e.g. in Germany, or will the new chances and risks lead to a greater equality of opportunities? Is the increase of solo-self-employment of females driven by the need to earn a living, or is it the result of females taking the risk e.g. to become more economically independent? Prima facie, we learn to acknowledge that the rise of self-employment is mostly supported by the rise of micro-firms and solo-self-employment, of which especially solo-self-employment is a female domain. The independent liberal professions also indicate a significant revival of female labour. The research tries to delve deeper into the different segments of the employment system and to connect empirical findings with the theoretical discussion on professional groups in modern capitalist societies. One basic question is whether female solo-self-employment is primarily driven by necessity in order to take part in the labour market or if those emerging activities reflect new innovative modes of labour market integration and reveal new opportunities and markets which are, in wide parts, especially due to the development of the service and health care sector.

Athena S. Cheng, Affirmative Action for the Female Entrepreneur: Gender as a Presumed Socially Disadvantaged Group for 8(a) Program Purposes, 10 Am. U. J. Gender Soc. Pol'y & L. 185 (2002).

Abstract (from author): Gender should be included as a presumed socially disadvantaged group for 8(a) program eligibility purposes. Part I provides a historical context of the 8(a) program and outlines the statutory framework, program functions, eligibility requirements, and SBA authority to designate a group as presumed socially disadvantaged. Part II examines procurement-related case law, including the latest 2001 Supreme Court decision, Adarand, permitting racial preferencing in federal procurement. Part III evaluates whether women meet the requisite three-pronged statutory test to acquire group designation as presumed socially disadvantaged, and examines plausible consequences of judicial review of the 8(a) program. Without a doubt, the 8(a) program provides a substantial growth opportunity for small businesses, and women-owned businesses in particularly would benefit from such group designation.

Susan Coleman & Alicia Robb, Sources of Funding For New Women-Owned Firms, 32 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 497 (2010).

Abstract: In this essay, the author will focus primarily on the current socio-economic condition of black Americans. The author will argue that while the black middle class grew quite dramatically in the 1960s and 70s, the significant gap in wealth between white and black Americans persisted. Thus, the relative economic weakness of black, middle class Americans makes their economic circumstances more perilous in times of recession. Second, despite the gains made by women generally over the past fifty years, race still remains an important factor in their economic wellbeing.

Susan Coleman & Alicia Robb, Sources of Funding for New Women-Owned Firms, 32 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 497 (2010).

Abstract (from authors): In this Article we use data from the Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) to examine the financing sources and strategies for a large sample of new firms in the United States. Our results reveal that women-owned firms raised smaller amounts of capital to start than men. Women also went on to raise smaller amounts of capital in subsequent years. Finally, our findings reveal that women business owners relied heavily on internal rather than external sources of both debt and equity to finance their firms. This finding may reflect differences in motivation between women and men business owners, differences in their levels of risk aversion, or differences in access to external sources of financing.

Huibert P. De Vries & Teresa E. Dana, Experiences of Ethnic Minority Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs in Contrast to Male Counterparts, 15 Int'l J. Entrepren. & Small Bus. 502 (2012).

Abstract (from journal): The incidence of ethnic women entrepreneurs has risen in modern multi-cultural societies as women from ethnic minority immigrant backgrounds seek greater economic and societal recognition. Many migrant-receiving countries seek to support this entrepreneurial behaviour, but the difficulty lies in the often different roads travelled by immigrant entrepreneurs with respect to ethnicity, gender, value systems, and cultural heritages. This study considered the migration, settlement, cultural and business issues as they present themselves in different forms, depending on a complex and dynamic combination of ethnic women immigrant entrepreneurs' characteristics and the receiving country's socio-economic infrastructure. The study then compares these issues with male counterparts. The findings confirm that ethnic women immigrant entrepreneurs display many of the classic entrepreneurial traits and attributes of migrant peoples, but also many of the gender challenges. Significant differences between ethnic women immigrant entrepreneurs and their male counterparts were also identified, such as motivations, business types, and competencies.

Rafael Efrat, Women Entrepreneurs in Bankruptcy, 45 Tulsa L. Rev. 527 (2010).

Abstract (from author): Women are a significant and an emerging part of the American small business community. Some have described this development as one of the most striking trends in the U.S. labor market. Female-owned businesses generate almost a trillion dollars in revenues every year and employ more than seven million workers. Women represent one of the fastest growing business-owner groups in the United States. The number of female-owned firms grew at a faster rate than the overall number of firms in the United States between 1997 and 2002. Similarly, between 1985 and 2000, female-owned sole proprietorships grew much faster than their male-owned counterparts in terms of number of businesses, gross receipts, and net income. By the end of the 1990s, the number of female-owned businesses was estimated to have increased in the United States by eighty-nine percent compared to a decade earlier, and reached six and a half million enterprises by 2002. This tremendous growth in female-owned businesses is due in part to various statutory enactments that have removed structural barriers women traditionally faced in owning a business. The upsurge in female-owned businesses might be initially traced to the equal rights movement of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Act of that decade. The rise of female-owned businesses continued in earnest in 1970 following the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibited credit discrimination based on gender, as well as the Affirmative Action Act of 1978. Along with the statutory pronouncements enabling women to join the entrepreneurial sector with greater ease, several national associations of women business owners were formed in the 1970s. These associations along with various federal government aid programs to female-owned businesses provided important support for women entrepreneurs in the country. The most recent rise in the number of female-owned businesses may have been facilitated by technological advances. As advancements in telecommunication have made it more feasible for entrepreneurs to operate their businesses from home, more individuals, and particularly women, have found home-based businesses as the most suitable vehicle to join the entrepreneurial sector.

Rafael Efrat, Women Entrepreneurs in Bankruptcy, 45 Tulsa L.Rev. 527 (2010).

Abstract (adapted from the Introduction): Women represent one of the fastest growing business-owner groups in the United States. The number of female-owned firms grew at a faster rate than the overall number of firms in the United States between 1997 and 2002. Similarly, between 1985 and 2000, female-owned sole proprietorships grew much faster than their male-owned counterparts in terms of number of businesses, gross receipts, and net income. By the end of the 1990s, the number of female-owned businesses was estimated to have increased in the United States by eighty-nine percent compared to a decade earlier, and reached six and a half million enterprises by 2002.

Along with the statutory pronouncements enabling women to join the entrepreneurial sector with greater ease, several national associations of women business owners were formed in the 1970s.

While female-owned businesses experienced significant growth in recent years, “women still trail men by a significant margin in entrepreneurial activity.” The self-employment rate among men is twelve percent as compared to the self-employment rate among women of just under seven percent. As a result, as of 2000, women sole proprietors constituted only thirty-seven percent of the sole proprietors in the United States. Studies have consistently shown that men are significantly more likely to become self-employed, with some researchers even finding that men are twice as likely to become self-employed compared to women.

Researchers have attributed women's under-representation in the entrepreneurial sector to a number of social structural barriers. Furthermore, women are sometimes discouraged from pursuing self-employment due to the difficulty of locating the necessary external financing. Moreover, women face more difficulties gaining access to networks that in many cases are critical for the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Lastly, some researchers have suggested that women are under-represented among the self-employed because of poor self-esteem and a greater fear of failure.

Jong Ha Lee et al., How Effective is Government Support for Korean Women Entrepreneurs in Small and Medium Enterprises?, 49 J. Small Bus. Mgmt. 599 (2011).

Abstract (adapted from authors): Women entrepreneurs are not as involved in economic activities as should be expected, despite the growing number of women entrepreneurs and increased government support in Korea. This study aims to investigate how effective the government is in terms of boosting the satisfaction of women entrepreneurs using the structural equation model. The authors investigated causal effect of government support policy and government support process on women entrepreneurs' satisfaction along with many other personal factors such as individual capacity, family life, social network, and business environment. The empirical results show that the government support process has the highest effect on the improvement of the satisfaction of women entrepreneurs. However, the current level of government support process is relatively low and therefore needs to be improved. It is interesting to note that the government support policy has the least effect on the satisfaction of women entrepreneurs. That is, women entrepreneurs are not sensitive to the support scale, support program, and gender-sensitive policies currently employed in Korea. Also, the authors obtain the satisfaction index of women entrepreneurs according to their marital status, presence of children, age, education level, and business type. Finally, the authors propose improvement plans that can effectively be activated for each business type in which women entrepreneurs are involved.

Karyn A. Loscocco, Joyce Robinson, Richard H. Hall & John K. Allen, Gender and Small Business Success: An Inquiry into Women's Relative Disadvantage, 70 Soc. F. 65 (1991-1992).

Emile Loza, Female Entrepreneurship Theory: A Multidisciplinary Review of Resources (Journal of Women's Entrepreneurship and Education, Institute of Economic Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia, 2011), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1833385.

Abstract (adapted from author): This article reviews academic literature regarding and otherwise relevant to the study of female entrepreneurship from across multiple disciplines. The author reports that the legal academy has only minimally engaged in entrepreneurship scholarship and not at all as to female entrepreneurship. The author reviews the origins of female entrepreneurship literature and the compilations describing the emergence of female entrepreneurship as a business and social phenomenon, the women who undertook and led these endeavors, and changes in the characteristics of women entrepreneurs over time. The author also presents materials in topical sections on business structure, strategy, and performance; culture, sex, and gender; diversity; economic and social development; essentialization and masculine norms; finance; identity issues; innovation and technology; motivation; personal and professional domains; psychology; social capital; and standpoint theory. She also points out the needs for a unified definitional taxonomy for entrepreneurship; for greater study of innovation-driven entrepreneurship, including as an endeavor of women; for the legal academy to enter the field of entrepreneurship study, including as to female entrepreneurship, to develop a new substantive area of law; and for entrepreneurship scholars to approach their work with interdisciplinarity.

Catherine A. Madsen, Feminizing Waste: Waste-Picking as an Empowerment Opportunity for Women and Children in Impoverished Communities, 17 Colo. J. Int'l Envtl. L. & Pol'y 165 (2006).

Abstract (from author): The crisis of excessive waste in developing countries, coupled with a high rate of poverty, has created an abundant labor force of waste-pickers at dumpsites in urban areas. Although the increasing number of waste-pickers is considered a sign of growing poverty and a problem to be eliminated, an examination of the economic and environmental contributions of waste-pickers has received scant attention. In addition, an exploration of strategies to improve the livelihoods of waste-pickers that takes advantage of their expertise and experience in recycling and environmental sustainability is also lacking. Instead, industrialized models of waste management strategies have been proposed to address the waste crisis. These models are inappropriate because they fail to account for current economic, social, and political conditions of the informal sector in developing nations. Rather than building on the waste management models used in industrialized nations, this note proposes that developing countries encourage the existing systems of waste management practiced by waste-pickers by improving the employment conditions and opportunities in this informal sector. This paper argues that economic and entrepreneurial programs, specifically programs in microfinance and the creation of "Recycling Schools," be employed to capitalize on waste-pickers' overlooked skills in waste management. It further argues that such a focus will result in the improved economic and social well-being of waste-pickers while concurrently preserving the environment through effective waste management strategies. Because the majority of waste-pickers are women and children, an examination of gender roles and the vulnerability of children are also presented.  

Patricia A. Meagher, The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program: Ten Years in the Making, 46 Procurement Law. 1 (2011).

Abstract: On October 7, 2010, nearly 10 years after Congress passed the Women's Equity in Contracting Act, the Small Business Administration issued a final rule implementing the women-owned small business (“WOSB”) program. This rule took effect on February 4, 2011 and identifies 83 industries in which WOSB are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented in federal contracting. In conjunction with the requirements of the Act, the rule creates opportunities for women--who make up 30 percent of the nation's business owners--to participate in a small share of federal contracting, in which they now receive less than 3.5 percent of awards. In addition to giving a brief history of this legislation, this article summarizes the provisions of the newly-enacted rule.

Patricio I. Ovalle Wood et al., Female Entrepreneurship: Empirical Evidence from Chile (2012), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2120795. 

Abstract (by author): This paper gives an account of the Consultancy in 15 schools of Female Entrepreneurship, conducted for the National Women Service SERNAM, Chile's state agency, as part of Support Social Cohesion EU-Chile, coordinated by the Agency International Cooperation, AGCI, which is an organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Chile, inspired as a cooperation program to promote policies that help overcome social inequality and propitiate towards gender equality as a foundation for the existence of a more equitable, humane and cohesive society. We present the results in the south of Chile, specifically in the regions of Araucania, Los Rios, Los Lagos, Aysen and Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, where it could be verified empirically, attributes such as commitment, strength, identity, courage, attitude and entrepreneurial mind of those southern regions women.

Patrina Ozurumba, Note, Girl Power: How Female Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Barriers to Successful Businesses, 34 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 24 (2012).

Abstract (adapted from author): Women have made considerable socioeconomic strides over the past century, partly due to sheer girl power, but mostly due to the changes in laws that have elicited such advancements. Since women are not as marginalized in society today as compared with the periods leading up to the feminist movement, gender roles are arguably more unstable now than ever before. Nowadays, for instance, the concept of gender is entirely blurred across sex lines such that gender may no longer be an attribute but a choice. Despite the fast pace by which women have progressed and the gender debate has evolved, one sticking point remains: female-run businesses have not caught up financially with those run by men. Generally defined, a female-run business is a “business that is at least 51% owned by a woman or women who also control and operate it. ‘Control’ in this context means exercising the power to make policy decisions. ‘Operate’ in this context means being actively involved in the day-to-day management.” For these reasons, this Note seeks to explore four legal and social divides that prevent women-owned businesses from achieving gender parity in business profitability: the difficulty for women entrepreneurs to secure financing; the disparity in pay levels among women and men; the commercialization of a woman's femininity, and  mompreneurs, entrepreneurial female business owners who are also active mothers. Overall, by exploring the legal landscape and its social effects, a broader, more complete picture to the barriers female-run businesses face should surface. Thus, female entrepreneurs who are equipped with an understanding of these barriers are better poised to overcome them.

Online Resources

Nolo.com, Seven Tips for Women Entrepreneurs: Start-up Tips For Female Business Owners, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/seven-tips-women-entrepreneurs-29580.html

Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration, Women in Business 22 (Oct. 2001).

Springboard Enterprises

Other Materials  

Elissa McCarter, Symposium: The Global Advancement of Women: Barriers and Best Practices: Women and Microfinance: Why We Should Do More, 6 U. MD. L.J. RACE, RELIGION, GENDER & CLASS 353 (2006).

Abstract (from author): The last twenty years have shown that microfinance is a proven development tool capable of providing vast numbers of the poor, particularly women, with sustainable financial services to support their livelihoods. The 2005 State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign reports that microfinance institutions reached over ninety-two million clients and benefited 333 million family members. The success of microfinance represents a paradigm shift in the development industry: poor people are no longer recipients of charity, but customers to be served. Women make up approximately eighty-three percent, or sixty-six million, of reported microfinance clients. They not only make good clients - women have proven better at paying on time than men - but are also key drivers of development. Investing in women, literally, has proven the most effective way to increase individual family expenditures on health and education, improve nutrition and food security, protect against emergencies, and begin the slow process of tackling the gender inequalities that hinder development in so many countries around the world.

comments powered by Disqus

Search EshipLaw Topics

Browse our extensive repository of articles, classroom materials and media that includes content from leading scholars.

Stay Connected

Email Newsletter Signup

Want to get connected? Sign up to receive regular news, polls and updates from The Kauffman Foundation.

Email Newsletters

Want to be up-to-date with the latest news and updates from Entrepreneurship.org? To subscribe, just give us your email address below; you'll choose which e-newsletters you'd like to receive on the next screen.