The purpose of this paper is to understand more about the conditions which foster certain women’s resilience in science engineering and technology (SET) entrepreneurship. The research responds to the so-called “leaky pipeline”, which sees progressively smaller numbers of women participating in SET at each developmental stage from training to employment, and asks why some women establish and grow their businesses while others are discouraged.
In all, 15 female SET entrepreneurs, with businesses that had progressed beyond the initial start-up phase were selected from national databases. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews and documentary records over a six-month period and analysed using both manual and software-based thematic review. Responses were mapped to bring narratives to the forefront, and were compared using relevant literature on emerging gender topics.
Findings suggest that female SET entrepreneurs undertake a continual process of adjustment to cope with the perceptual tendencies of visibility, contrast and assimilation (Kanter, 1993). They make frequent allowances and/or arrangements for their “unusual” status within the industry. In overcoming limited opportunities for women in traditional SET roles, participants perceived assimilation in terms of becoming an “honorary man”, occasionally in attitude, but primarily via hard-earned proof of personal expertise.
This research considers an under-researched group, dealing both with female entrepreneurship generally and women’s involvement in the SET sector specifically, and demonstrates the complexity of responses to gendered business environments. Increased awareness of the issues facing women in SET is vital in beginning to address the leaky pipeline.
Martin, L., Wright, L., Beaven, Z. and Matlay, H. (2015), "An unusual job for a woman? Female entrepreneurs in scientific, engineering and technology sectors", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 539-556. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-08-2011-0095Download as .RIS
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