Empowering women entrepreneurs in emerging economies: a conceptual model
While women account for just under half of the world’s population, the level of women’s participation in the workforce varies widely from nation to nation, from just 12% in Qatar, to a high of 53% in Mozambique. Additionally, women are, on average, paid less than men, with the gender gap in earnings estimated to be approximately 17% globally. Women are also disproportionately represented in low paying jobs, and where they are in higher-paying positions, the gender gap in earnings is even higher. Clearly then, there is significant scope for economic growth and poverty reduction through the promotion gender equality in the workforce. One promising avenue for empowering women entrepreneurs is through the rapidly increasing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), a concept known as cyberfeminism. That is the message of this paper, published in the journal Organisations and Markets in Emerging Economies, in which the authors set out to develop a conceptual model describing the role technology can play in empowering women entrepreneurs in emerging economies.
First, the authors provide an overview of the role that ICTs, in particular social media, plays in the empowerment of women entrepreneurs, and discusses the impact that social media can have on self-efficacy. Next, the authors discuss the concept of social capital, and through literature review explain the the role of ICTs in its creation. Finally, the authors show how these three major constructs - social media, self-efficacy, and social capital - combine and interrelate in the process of empowerment, suggesting that support for additional research with regards to their intertwining nature is needed to boost not simply the process of empowerment, but also empowerment-as-outcome.
The relationships between social media, self-efficacy, and social capital are summarised in the form of a conceptual framework comprised of five key propositions:
Proposition 1: The use of information technology, particularly social media, instills self-efficacy in newly-engaged women entrepreneurs in emerging economies.
Proposition 2: The use of information technology, particularly social media, increases the social capital of the newly-engaged woman entrepreneur in emerging economies.
Proposition 3: Improved self-efficacy in newly-engaged women entrepreneurs in emerging economies will result in greater feelings of empowerment.
Proposition 4: Increased social capital in newly-engaged women entrepreneurs in emerging economies will result in greater feelings of empowerment.
Proposition 5: There will be an increase in the number of women entrepreneurs in emerging economies as feelings of empowerment are improved.
The authors conclude that it is critical we gain a better understanding of the determinants that can increase the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in emerging economies, and that the observed role of social media use in the outcomes of women entrepreneurs creates a fruitful avenue of investigation. As a woman entrepreneur’s network (bridging social capital) and feelings of ability to control resources (self-efficacy) grow through the use of social media, the proffered propositions suggest that this will have a wider impact on society, e.g. the increased status of women in the community, which may help with the fostering of more public and private rights for women. Testing this conceptual model is the obvious next step, and it is hoped that this paper will help spur new avenues for mixed-method research.