The relatable entrepreneur: Combating stereotypes in entrepreneurship education
Journal article, 2021
Despite an estimated 582 million entrepreneurs globally, stereotypes plague the social cognitive concept of ‘the entrepreneur’, shaping assumptions of what entrepreneurship is while being far from representative of possible entrepreneurial identities. ‘Heroic’ stereotypes of entrepreneurs (e.g., Steve Jobs or Elon Musk) stemming from the popular media shape the assumptions of students entering entrepreneurship classrooms. These stereotypes are strong and limiting, framing entrepreneurship as attainable only through exceptional skill and talent, and are often characterized by exclusively masculine qualities. Involving identity work in entrepreneurship education can expose the limitations that stereotypes impose on students aspiring to be entrepreneurs and introduce more heterogeneity. The use of narrative cases allows educators to facilitate a threefold approach: (1) raising awareness of stereotypes, (2) creating a structure for more realistic examples and socialization through narrative comparisons and (3) teaching students the basics of identity management for sustaining their entrepreneurial careers. The approach encourages direct conversations about what is – and who can become – an entrepreneur and reveals the limiting beliefs that students may bring with them into the classroom. Such discussion informs the educator on how to foster students’ entrepreneurial identity and empower their identity management.