College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Megan Greeson, PhD

Second Advisor

Nathan Todd, PhD

Third Advisor

Jane Halpert, PhD


The number of women who are entrepreneurs in the United States has steadily risen since the 1970s and today women found almost half of all new companies. For women, creating their own companies through entrepreneurship may be a way to reject existing work settings, where existing setting and gender dynamics may limit their advancement, creativity, or flexibility. Indeed, entrepreneurship may serve as a form of empowerment to enable women to pursue greater control over their lives. Yet research on the lived experience of this population is limited, with few studies examining the lived experience of this important group. Also, existing literature is criticized as being conducted through a distinctly masculine lens, rendering it an inadequate tool to examine the lived experiences of women who are entrepreneurs. As an initial step to contribute research on this topic, this study used a qualitative approach, consisting of 20 in-depth interviews of women who are entrepreneurs, to describe their experiences of starting and running their own companies. Overall, findings suggest that entrepreneurship may serve as a form of empowerment for women, despite the continued barriers due to sexism and gender bias. These findings are discussed in detail along with implications, limitations, and directions for future research.

SLP Collection