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Challenging the concept of risk in relation to women's entrepreneurshipPurpose This paper aims to challenge the myth of risk-averseness among women entrepreneurs and analyses risk in the context of gender. It explores risk perceptions and examines the relationship between the concept of risk and women's socially attributed roles. Design/methodology/approach This paper adopts a qualitative approach, where ten Irish women business owners were interviewed, that encouraged them to talk about their entrepreneurial experiences. The research design aimed to elicit data concerning how gender and the socio-economic context influenced risk. Findings Risk is shown as a gendered concept which needs to be widened to suit the experiences of women entrepreneurs and the influences of the gendered expectations of care dictated by the socio-economic environment. Practical implications Risk as a concept needs to be expanded to go beyond financial risk. The different types of risk encountered by women should be addressed by policy to promote a further growth of women-led enterprises and support those considering self-employment. Originality/value The paper develops an understanding of risk among women entrepreneurs in their socio-economic context. It challenges the viewpoint of seeing women entrepreneurs as risk-averse and thus leading to low-growth prospects for their business ventures.