Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Management & Enterprise

First Advisor

Dr Breda Kenny

Second Advisor

Dr Pio Fenton


This thesis explores gender, role models, entrepreneurial self-efficacy and career intentions of secondary school students in Ireland. Most prior research includes entrepreneurial education as an important factor in the decision to start a business. Few studies include the importance of entrepreneurial perceptions, role models, self-efficacy, and career intentions combined and what implications this may have for entrepreneurial education. Previous studies cite the importance of role models for potential entrepreneurs but ignore how the role model is perceived or who the role models of this generation (Gen Z) are. This study used a semistructured questionnaire and the Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) to elicit the views of 125 secondary school students (aged fourteen to eighteen) from the Munster region in Ireland. The key findings indicate that entrepreneurs are predominantly male, perceptions of key characteristics differ between males and females, role models for males and females are very different but that entrepreneurial career intentions are present for both males and females. Furthermore urban students have higher entrepreneurial career intentions than their rural counterparts. In terms of self-efficacy males ranked themselves higher in all skills of entrepreneurial activity assigning lower value only to creative skills and managing money. The females assigned higher value to creative skills and managing money. Several areas where information is lacking were highlighted in the literature review of this study. From a pedagogically perspective, this study provides actionable insights for entrepreneurship education practice in the future, as well as government policy and legislation. This study adds to the literature in the areas of entrepreneurship education, gender, role models, entrepreneurial self-efficacy and entrepreneurial career intentions. By using novel methodological methods such as the repertory grid technique and drawings and reflection this research provides greater insight into student perceptions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Access Level


Project Identifier

info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/Cork Institute of Technology/Rísam Scholarship//IE//