An exploration of the eudaimonic well-being of UK women entrepreneurs

  • Giselle Goodwin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study explores the eudaimonic well-being of women entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. Frequently discussed in the literature on enterprise and gender is that women face more challenges than men when starting a business (Marlow and McAdam, 2013). Women’s start-up rate is half that of UK men and their businesses do not scale or profit to the same degree (Rose, 2019). Within the literature on enterprise and well-being, a paradox is revealed that despite experiencing increased work stressors, entrepreneurs have greater well-being than the employed population (Andersson, 2008; Stephan, 2018). It is suggested that eudaimonic aspects of well-being such as autonomy and meaning are largely responsible for this finding (Lange, 2012; Stephan, 2020) (in deference to hedonic or ‘day-to-day pleasure’ aspects of well-being). This thesis intersects these two fields of research by uniquely examining the eudaimonic well-being of women entrepreneurs through a lens of social constructionist feminism. Findings are of importance as previous study of UK entrepreneurs has not explored gender differences in entrepreneurial eudaimonia and UK government policy is to encourage women’s increased participation in enterprise (Devine and Foley, 2020).
Mixed methods were used to answer three questions: 1) Are there measurable differences in the wellbeing of men and women entrepreneurs?, 2) What are the facets of women’s eudaimonic entrepreneurial well-being? and 3) What is the role of gender and circumstance in women’s eudaimonic entrepreneurial well-being?.
Results evidenced no difference in the prevalence of eudaimonic entrepreneurial well-being between men and women through quantitative analysis of 291 UK-based questionnaire respondents (168 women and 123 men). Qualitative analysis of 40 interviewees (35 women and five men) suggested four facets of eudaimonic well-being for women entrepreneurs, namely: autonomy, authenticity, meaning, and engagement. Granular qualitative examination demonstrated the role of gender and circumstance in eudaimonic well-being elements of: 1) time and financial autonomy (due to gender roles, women entrepreneurs placed greater emphasis on time autonomy than financial autonomy and experienced constrained choice regarding paid and unpaid labour) and 2) authenticity (women entrepreneurs had significantly less confidence than men and expended effort constructing authentic ‘feminine’ identities whilst pursuing ‘masculine’ entrepreneurial endeavour).
These findings contribute new knowledge to the literature as they: 1) examine gender differences in entrepreneurial eudaimonia, 2) establish four facets of women’s eudaimonic entrepreneurial wellbeing and 3) illuminate women’s constraints within this.
Date of AwardJun 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCarol Ekinsmyth (Supervisor) & Caroline Day (Supervisor)

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