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It has been thought that Entrepreneurs, in general, are recognized by their success or their failure. However, it goes without saying that the nature of business venture that they undertake and the manner in which they handle their business, are the main factors that determine their relative success or, in fact, failure. Consequently, it is not too far-fetched to believe in the fact that such relative success could or in fact would depend on the type of business ventured into by an entrepreneur. It is even more relevant in case of women entrepreneurs as there are numerous factors that impact their ventures. They learn the nuances of business only after they start a particular venture. These factors could begin with social factors, gender differences, issues on equality as well their ability to run a business in a much dominated male environment.
Nevertheless, in order to understand the true nature of women entrepreneurship, the types of businesses undertaken in Iran need to be studied. In fact, one can examine the women entrepreneurs for not only traditional businesses but also in modern businesses, which involve some amount of technical knowledge. Indeed, one needs to take into consideration the fact that Iran is a developing country, much like India, Malaysia or even Indonesia. As claimed by Ganeshan (2004), women entrepreneurs in India generally undertake three types of industrial enterprises: (1) entrepreneurs operating purely as subcontractor on raw materials provided by their customers; (2) manufacturers of items that are usually used by large scale units; and (3) manufacturers of consumer products which are directly sold in the market. Evidently, in Iran, women are also divided in such category.
Statement of the Problem
The main objective of this research was finding the reasons for starting a venture or a new enterprise and, subsequently, the dominant factors that influenced women to take up entrepreneurship. Studies have revealed that women became entrepreneurs due to various reasons classified as pull and push factors. Pull factors are those which encourage women to have an independent occupation. Under the influence of these factors, women entrepreneurs choose a profession as a challenge, adventure, with an urge to do something new. On the other hand, the push factors are those, which compel women to take up business enterprises to get over financial difficulties and responsibilities. Nevertheless, many women take to entrepreneurship to fulfil an urge for independence and creativity. The role of Government agencies and NGOs cannot be ignored. Women entrepreneurship is one of the key focus areas in the various policies for women development.
Therefore, in this study, the researcher would like to examine the different reasons for Iranian women to start a new business venture and compare those reasons with the difficulties that they might face such as religious limitations such as the dress code for Iranian women imposed by the government and cultural constraints such as male supremacy that regards men as superior to women. These two main factors will be studied in more depth and details since many women in Iran have been pulled back from fulfilling their innate capabilities and potentials simply because they were women and in Iranian society they had to face different forms of cultural constraints such as male supremacy as well as religious limitations that could in theory and would in practice undermine the scope of their success.
Therefore, in order to conduct the following study, the researcher decided to narrow down the many aspects and parameters involved into three main factors mentioned above and formed the following research questions.
Is there any relationship between cultural constraints such as male supremacy and the rate of success in women entrepreneurship?
Is there any relationship between religious limitations such as the dress code for women and the rate of success in women entrepreneurship?
Subsequently, the researcher transformed these research questions into research hypothesis so that the questions could be analyzed in a more scientific and hierarchical format.
There is no relationship between cultural constraints such as male supremacy and the rate of success in women entrepreneurship.
There is no relationship between religious limitations such as dress code and the rate of success in women entrepreneurship.
The objective of this study is to see if the results of the questionnaire given to 42 women entrepreneurs in Iran managing different forms of SMEs, whether in the textile industry or the cosmetic trade, has a statistically significant correlation within two paradigm of religious limitations and cultural constraints with regard to rate of their success which will be operationally defined and measured in their annual turnover, rise in sales and profit as well as capital enlargement. The researcher intends to see whether these factors felt by the entrepreneur that will be measured using a questionnaire simply based on their personal opinion has in fact influenced the success of their enterprise or not.
The researcher will be conducting a descriptive research in a form of field study using surveys and questionnaire. The researcher will be interviewing 42 women entrepreneurs using a 36 item questionnaire that deals with their opinion regarding male supremacy in Iranian society as well as the difficulties they might have faced or at least they feared to face in Iran simply because they were women. Moreover, the questions will also deal with the religious limitations that they had to face working in Iran since the government in Tehran does and has imposed different forms of restriction on women such as the dress code that could be regarded, at least in theory, as a formidable constraint for many women entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, the interviewees will be given a survey that is kept quite confidential regarding the company annual turnover, rise in the sales as well as capital enlargement in which all aims to conclude the rate of success. Nevertheless, for the sake of face validity, the survey will be taken in the second phase of the research so that the entrepreneurs response on their opinion regarding the limitations and restrictions that they might have faced would not be influenced by the survey since their response would be quite subjective by nature and any previous administration could or at least might have an impact on their responses.
Finally, the researcher would be using SPSS software of version 17.0 to analyze the questionnaire. The researcher will be interested to see if there are any positive or even negative correlation in the factors studied in this research and, if yes, how statistically significant such correlation is at 0.05 level of significance. The researcher would like to see if the null-hypotheses would be rejected at 0.05 level of significance, in order to conclude that such factors do, in fact, influence the rate of success for women entrepreneurship.
Review of Literature
It is quite evident that as technology speeds up lives and the new millennium is now upon us, it is important to take time to reflect on what will obviously be one of the driving forces of the global economy in the new millennium. In fact, women are an emerging economic force that policymakers and economical experts cannot afford to ignore nor neglect. What are the implications of this for businesswomen throughout the world? How can women's business enterprises best channel this potential and maximize it to improve the status of women in the world economy? The world's modern economy, and in fact democracy, depends on the participation of both genders.
In the global economy of the 21st century, international trade will be a key source of economic growth and development. Recent surveys conducted in many countries by the National Foundation of Women Business Owners (NFWBO) indicate that women-owned firms involved in the global market have greater income and revenues, are more optimistic about their business prospects and are more focused on business expansion than women-owned firms that are domestically oriented. Obviously, expanding into international trade can pay off for women-owned firms. Joshi (2009) believes that women's business associations can and should ensure that their members-large and small-are equipped to obtain the rewards of expanding into the international arena. In fact, it goes without saying that women must learn how to play the international trade game, and a global network of women's business associations can help them achieve this goal.
Joshi (2009) further on states that information technology can help identify markets, provide industry information and spotlight trends about what the role of women in state economies can be or should be so that optimum results would be obtained. More information about women-owned business enterprises is sorely needed to force policymakers to realize that women are an economic force to be reckoned with. Part of this process is to document the economic significance of women-owned enterprises in order to establish a constructive dialogue. Indeed, what women's business organizations (WBOs) can provide may be summed up in three simple word; access, organization, and certainly advocacy. In some regions of the world, transformation to a market economy threatens to widen the gap of gender inequality. Some of these changes are simply the legacy of a gender imbalance that existed prior to political and economic reforms. Furthermore, it is quite evident that such changes reflect a return to traditional norms and standards that relegated women to a secondary status. As countries become more democratic, gender inequalities lessen; thus, offering a more productive atmosphere for both sexes.
2.2 Women Entrepreneurship
Van Der Wees, C. & Romijn, H. (1995) elaborate on the fact that women's business associations play a vital role in identifying appropriate and/or emerging sectors where women entrepreneurs can succeed. The areas that are likely to take off rapidly during a nation's market revitalization are public relations, transport, delivery, producing and consumer goods, commercial banking systems, financial services, different forms of insurance, and other service-related industries. In this process, women business owners are innovators, job creators, and providers of economic security. In fact, it is mentioned that as owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) women can also supply multinational companies with ideas, inventions, technology, raw materials, supplies, components, and business services. Ultimately, female business owners will be recognized for who they are, what they do, and how significantly they impact the global economy. Change is afoot in the global economy and it is bearing a woman's face.
Quite intriguingly, worldwide, many women are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship emerges from an individual's creative spirit and intuition into long-term business ownership, job creation, and economic security that benefits all. Women bring commitment and integrity because they care about economic empowerment, entrepreneurial development and innovation. Female entrepreneurs seek the professional and personal support that is found in business associations. Economic globalization has encouraged the expansion of female business ownership. "â€¦The growing economic power and influence of women-owned businesses are changing the shape of the global economy," remarked Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, director of the UN Development Program's Human Development Report.
On the other hand, Kollan (2009) strongly claims that the global impact of women entrepreneurs is only the beginning to gain intensity. Worldwide, the number of female business owners continues to Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Economy increase steadily. For example, according to the data women produce more than 80 percent of the food for Sub-Saharan Africa, 50-60 percent for Asia, 26 percent for the Caribbean, 34 percent for North Africa and the Middle East, and more than 30 percent for Latin America. 3 Female entrepreneurs are active at all levels domestically, regionally, and globally.
In fact, a recent United Nations report concluded that economic development, as a whole, is closely related to the advancement of women, in particular. In nations where women have advanced, economic growth has usually been steady. By contrast, in countries where women have been restricted, the economy has been stagnant and still struggling to develop, in the broad sense. According to the 1995 UN survey, "two changes have occurred over the past 10 years in the enabling environment for women in the economy. One is the establishment of legal equality for women. The other is granting women equal access to education and training." Women entrepreneurs are significantly affecting the global economy.
Webster, R., Gray, T. & Johnson, R. (1999) collectively in their study came to the conclusion that women's entrepreneurship needs to be studied separately for two main reasons. The first reason is that women's entrepreneurship has been recognized during the previous decade as an important untapped source of economic growth. Women entrepreneurs create new jobs for themselves and others and simply by being different also provide society with different solutions to management, organization and business problems as well as to the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. However, they still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs. Thus there exists a market failure discriminating against women's possibility to become entrepreneurs and their possibility to become successful entrepreneurs.
Therefore, quite indisputably, his market failure needs to be addressed by policy makers so that the economic potential of this group can be fully utilized. While without a doubt the economic impact of women is substantial, we still lack a reliable picture describing in detail that specific impact. Recent efforts initiated by the OECD (1997, 2000) are responses to this lack of knowledge and have focused the attention of policy makers and researchers on this important topic that needs more consideration.
Evidently, the second reason is that the topic of women in entrepreneurship has been largely neglected both in society in general and in the social sciences in particular. Not only have women lower participation rates in entrepreneurship than men but they also generally choose to start and manage firms in different industries than men tend to do. The industries (primarily retail, education and other service industries) chosen by women are often perceived as being less important to economic development and growth than high-technology and manufacturing. Furthermore, mainstream research, policies and programs tend to be "men streamed" and too often do not take into account the specific needs of women entrepreneurs and would-be women entrepreneurs. As a consequence, equal opportunity between men and women from the perspective of entrepreneurship is still not a reality. In order for policy makers to address the situation the report makes a number of recommendations.
In order to realize the benefits of policy changes it is important to incorporate a women entrepreneurial dimension in considering all SMEs and growth policies (e.g. meeting women's financing needs at all stages of the business continuum; take-up of business development and support services; access to corporate, government and international markets; technology access and utilisation; R&D and innovation; etc.). Moreover this means periodically evaluating the impact of these measures on the success of women-owned businesses and exchanging good models and best practices, through cooperation with leading international bodies such as the OECD, European Union, APEC, UNCTAD and the ILO, in order to continually improve policies and programs. Better qualitative information and quantitative data and statistics are required to profile women entrepreneurs (demographic information, barriers to start-up and growth). This would also assist in promoting awareness of the role of women entrepreneurs in the economy. Using a frame of reference such as that developed in the report could be valuable for the analysis of this information.
It is observed that women entrepreneur networks are major sources of knowledge about women's entrepreneurship and they are increasingly recognized and well acknowledged as a valuable tool for its development and promotion. Policy makers must foster the networking of associations and encourage co-operation and partnerships among national and international networks and facilitate entrepreneurial endeavors by women in the economy. Women's entrepreneurship is both about women's position in society and the role of entrepreneurship in the same society. Women are faced with specific obstacles (such as family responsibilities) that have to be overcome in order to give them access to the same opportunities as men. Moreover, in some countries, women may experience obstacles with respect to holding property and entering contracts. Increased participation of women in the labor force is a prerequisite for improving the position of women in society and self-employed women.
In a case study carried out by McCarthy, D., Puffer, S. , & Naumov A. (1994) the results revealed that women entrepreneurs play an important role in the entrepreneurial economy, both in their ability to create jobs for themselves and to create jobs for others. In fact, the results of the study showed that in Europe (both European Union countries and other European countries), estimates indicate that there exist more than 10 million self-employed women. In the United States 6.4 million self-employed women provide employment for 9.2 million people and create significant sales. Using the United States ratio between the number of employees and self-employment it may be estimated that employed women in surveyed European countries could employ around 15 million persons. Furthermore, it was discovered that self-employment represents one of the most important job opportunities for women. This seems to be a correct conclusion independent of what country or type of economy is observed. Self-employment represents an important job alternative for many women and perhaps especially for women in developing economies. It is also observed that in all countries women still represent a minority of those that start new firms, are self-employed, or are small business owner-managers.