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Kerstin Ettl and Friederike Welter

Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to offer an insight into gender, context and entrepreneurial earning of women entrepreneurs in Germany. Design/methodology/approach - The paper explores entrepreneurial learning of women entrepreneurs both conceptually and empirically. Section 1 introduces a conceptual framework, which allows analysing entrepreneurial learning both from an individual gender-specific and from acontext-based perspective. Empirically, the paper explores how women entrepreneurs acquire the (business-related) knowledge to start and grow an enterprise and the impact of regional, sector, family and social as well as macro environments in this regard. Findings are based on 31 in-depths interviews with women entrepreneurs and 23 interviews with key experts. Findings - It is found that the meso environment is more of an indirect influence; the macro and micro environments are strong influences on lives and decisions of women entrepreneurs, especially on their opportunity recognition. The business environment has both a direct and indirect influence. Practical implications - The results demonstrate an ongoing need for a contemporary image of women’s entrepreneurship inGermany.Themajor challenge for policy-makers and support organizations therefore lies in propagating diverse entrepreneurial images and in incorporating the diversity of women’s entrepreneurship and their specific learning approaches into policies and support offers. Originality/value - The paper contributes a different and so far neglected perspective on entrepreneurial learning and opportunity recognition, drawing attention to the contextual influences and the embedding of cognitive processes.