The improvement of female employment has become a strategic goal for the development of Italian economy. However, women still experience barriers to entry some positions and activities: the field of entrepreneurship is one of them. The aim of the paper is to show how female entrepreneurship can be considered as a tool for improving female employment and, at the same time, contributing to innovation of local economic systems. The study focuses on development patterns of female entrepreneurship in the district of Cuneo, an area in the Nord-West of Italy, characterized by a good economic performance but still traditional values. Research result focus mainly on two key points. First, the crucial importance of social capital and the need for policies targeted to its development, second the relevance of the surrounding environment and the role of public institutions for building together innovation.
Keywords: Female entrepreneurship, innovation, social capital, institutions, work-life balance, local development