Are Women Less “Jack-of-All-Trades“ than Men? An Empirical Test of Lazear’s Theory of Entrepreneurship

Thursday, May 9, 2013 ( 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm )

Location: Babbio 104

Howe School Research Colloquium

Are Women Less  “Jack-of-All-Trades“ than Men? An Empirical Test of Lazear’s Theory of Entrepreneurship


Vartuhi Tonoyan, Assistant Professor Howe School



The Stanford economist, Edward Lazear, developed the ‘jack-of-all trades’ theory of entrepreneurship, positing that having a background in a large number of different fields increases the probability of becoming an entrepreneur. Recent empirical work confirms Lazear’s hypothesis, showing that the probability of being self-employed increases for individuals with a higher number of different kinds of professional training and also a higher number of changes of professions in the past. Using two representative samples of the German population, this empirical study investigates whether women’s lower probability to become an entrepreneur can be attributed to the fact that women are less “jack-of-all-trades” than men. We find that women are less “jack-of-all-trades” than men, i.e. they have changed their fields of professional training, occupations and jobs significantly less often than men. Indeed, our results from the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method show that this explains roughly 40% of the gender-specific differences in the entry into entrepreneurship.



Vartuhi Tonoyan is an Assistant Professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, US, and Research Fellow at the Mannheim Institute for SME Research, Germany. Her research interests focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and emergence of high-technology industries. She published in the Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. She is the recipient of the Top Reviewer Award of the Journal of Business Venturing, the Best Paper Award of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management as well as the Best Reviewer Award of the International Management Division of the Academy of Management. Professor Tonoyan has wide experiences in the acquisition and implementation of third-party funded research projects. She serves on the editorial board of several entrepreneurship journals. She has consulted with the UN on small business development and corruption in developing economies. She received the diploma of economics degree (with distinction) in Armenia and the doctorate degree in management (with distinction) from the University of Mannheim in Germany. At the Mannheim University —one of the leading German universities in economics, management, and social sciences— she held the position of the Head of the Entrepreneurship Research Division at the Institute for SME Research. Prior to joining Stevens, she spent one year as a visiting scholar at the Stanford University’s School of Business.