This paper aims to discuss the ways to strengthen the contribution of scholarship to gender equity in practice for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Research that spotlights gender construction and enactment, including its origins and its discriminatory effects on people, is inherently social action to the degree that it motivates institutional change. For this 10th year recognition of the founding of the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, the four waves of feminism framework is used to consider our conceptual domain and select practitioners in the gender × entrepreneurship field are interviewed for input on-field needs. Findings are that academics can boost equity in practice by doing original research and promoting research that is more representative, sharing specialized scholarship skills in activist arenas, making the results of academic research available to practitioners and policymakers, and reviewing and validating (or discrediting) information circulating in public spheres.
This reflective essay is designed to consider the relevance of scholarship in gender and entrepreneurship to practitioners who participate in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The concept of the temporal waves of feminism, plus interviews with international practitioners, are used to inform the issues.
Findings are that academics can boost equity in practice by doing original research and promoting research that is more representative, sharing specialized scholarship skills in activist arenas, making the results of academic research available to practitioners and policymakers, and reviewing and validating (or discrediting) information circulating in public spheres.
Scholars of gender and entrepreneurship can look for and create access and meaning for their work with and for practitioners. Bridges to scholarship on gender (e.g. in psychology, anthropology, gender studies, social psychology) can be built to stay current and effective.
Nelson, T. (2020), "Strengthening the contribution of scholarship to equity in practice for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 103-115. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJGE-06-2019-0110Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited
The purpose of this paper is to discuss ways to strengthen the contribution of scholarship to equity in practice for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Research that spotlights gender construction and enactment, including its origins and discriminatory effects on people, is inherently social action to the degree that it motivates institutional change. Academics can boost equity in practice through the doing of their research and through wider and targeted application of scholarship principles in public spheres.
Gender scholars in entrepreneurship do not occupy either the center place in gender studies or the center place in entrepreneurship from a scholar domain mapping perspective. Our focus and impact are largely felt within our own commune and within entrepreneurship research – and beyond to the many other fields that we touch through our scholarship networks. In positioning ourselves within the ideas of sex and gender, we set the vision for ourselves and for entrepreneurship through conclusions and points of view where we are taken as an expert.
In this reflective paper, I use narrative study and the conceptual ideas of others, as well as my own experience, to consider the potential of the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship (IJGE) and its community of scholars to increase the impact of this expertise for gender equity in practice. I am interested in how we can accomplish the movement of our knowledge, models and recommendations beyond the act of publication to contribute to the social movement on behalf of gender liberation within the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
My preparation for this paper included three actions. First, I reviewed the 10 years of research published in IJGE to capture the essence of the story of the body of work. Second, I read broadly with an integrator’s eye in the literature of feminism and gender to determine what is current and applicable. Third, I conducted interviews with long term, engaged practitioners in the international gender x entrepreneurship arena to gather their perspectives on academic contribution – real and potential. Together these actions led me to some conclusions about avenues for scholarly and professional engagement to boost gender equity in entrepreneurship practice. I welcome comment and critique.
The International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship literature and theoretical concepts
I assume that IJGE operates within a feminist viewpoint, i.e. that it draws on a moral and ontological stance of equality of people, regardless – and by extension, commitment to a belief in equity for all in terms of access, expression and outcomes. With this start, one can analyze various research streams in the IJGE research oeuvre including a very significant portion of articles focused on women engaged with entrepreneurship in the context of different practices and different world geographies. This research tends to locate on the comparison of women’s experience to men’s experience with women’s experience judged to be lacking because the system in place, formed to and through patriarchy, disfavors women’s economic participation globally.
This systemic discrimination narrative delivers important data about the state of equity and it delivers an understanding of disadvantage and under-representation of women in entrepreneurship practice. Further, the Journal’s welcome to scholars beyond the Global North provides an important resource for everyone interested in entrepreneurship practice beyond their own locale. These are two substantial contributions of IJGE in its first decade.
That said, there is a downside to the preponderance of adoption of this discrimination narrative that I have been thinking about in two ways. First, it shields us from a direct view of women’s lived experience without the burden of the shadow of comparison. Second, it keeps the narrative in a “woman” and “gender” synonym box, which equates gender study with the study of women and largely, in fact, only some women.
Women’s lived experience (entrepreneur’s lived experience)
As Mary Catherine Bateson (1990; p. 99) observed, Women's narratives are half autonomous and half contingent. When I think about this in terms of our research, I see three related things. First, in terms of women and men in the world, we operate within a reflection of women’s lives in terms of the male norm. Focusing so intently on what women do not access equitably in entrepreneurship blocks and colors our interpretation of what they do have – e.g. self-created livelihoods. What would we see if we removed that reflection and looked straight on? I expect there is a whole other body of work related to women’s experience of entrepreneurship that is waiting to be explored:
Lived experience […] leads to a self-awareness that acknowledges the integrity of an individual life and how separate life experiences can resemble and respond to larger public and social themes, creating a space for storytelling, interpretation, and meaning-making (Given,2018; p. 489).
Second, aiming to look truly at the reflected status of the male norm is difficult:
One of the primary ways in which gender and destiny intersect is around the difficulty women have in creating coherent narratives that reflect the full scope of their subjectivity (Diamond, 2009).
By way of example, I believe my world of practice is overly comfortable with the “unconscious bias” narrative as an explanation for discrimination because then the system is culpable, individuals are not culpable. From this perspective, in reviewing the body of work in IJGE, I was surprised and concerned with how little discussion there was of the actual discrimination that we know exists. We keep it rather at arms-length and emotion-free – of course, that is also the way of science.
Third, by using the male norm as standard, we import from entrepreneurship a view of what successful entrepreneurship is. For example, our work overemphasizes access to capital and high growth entrepreneurship over entrepreneurship as practiced. I see this in conference presentation subjects, special issue foci, and in our teaching structure. Why is there more conversation about equity than debt? Why am I teaching this group of undergraduate students about venture capital in an introductory entrepreneurship course? Does that support the image of an elite practice that diminishes their appetite to join in? To declare success?
Sometimes setting aside, to the best of our ability, the growth narrative and the discrimination narrative, we could perhaps better report and consider women’s lived experience of entrepreneurship without the shadow of comparison. This would allow us to create complex story lines that include work and family, spirituality and economics, children, families, politics and a wider economic view of practice.
Gender and people
IJGE came about, in part, to locate a journal for researchers studying women in entrepreneurship. My work with Nelson and Constantinidis (2017), however, reviewing scholarship in the entrepreneurship-related family business field, found that most work referencing “gender” was, in fact, using “gender” as a synonym for “sex” or “female” and that a very high percentage of 20 years of work was concerned with women, and was conducted by women. Brandotti says, “Woman has been […] the symbol that feminists have gathered around” (Braidotti, 1994; pp. 9-10).
Gender as a construct related to, but beyond sex, has entered our work to some extent – theoretically and practically – primarily as informed by social construction, and to a lesser extent psycho-analytical views, that distinguish sex and gender. However, conceptual engagement with gender is very limited in IJGE as a whole.
In terms of gender as a theoretical construct, in practice the male standard in entrepreneurship discriminates against men, as well as women; it is deeply relevant to men, as well as women; and it exists beyond the binary of men and women. Referring to the work of Kenneth Wilber, a “flaw of academic feminism is the creation of a false dichotomy of men as oppressors/women as oppressed” (Fisher and Nicholson, 2014: pp. 9-10). Controversial, I know: “Virtually every society that survived did so by persuading its sons to be disposable – disposable in war, disposable at work – and therefore, indirectly, disposable as dads” (Fisher and Nicholson, 2014; p. 10).
Limited work in IJGE now explores the theoretical construct of gender, even to include male and female person experience. IGJE exceptions include recently (Gather et al., 2016, Bijedic and Piper, 2019; Choukir et al., 2019).
Gender and feminism as theoretical constructs
Researchers in entrepreneurship import gender theory into their work from other disciplines. For the most part, this causes a “delay” in application as original research in the social sciences is done and published, and then transferred, consumed and applied by individual or groups of entrepreneurship researchers. This translation process is challenging not only for the lag but also because ideas come piecemeal depending on the orientation and interests of the translating academic.
The continuing work in feminist theory to categorize feminist inquiry historically is relevant here (Snyder, 2008; Evans and Chamberlain, 2015; Walker, 1992; Heywood, 2006; Cochrane, 2013) While it is sometimes critiqued (Gillis et al., 2004; Springer, 2002), the wave construction on historical feminist thought can be an eye-opening template to consider extensions of feminist and gender scholarship into entrepreneurship (Table I).
I experience the bulk of research on women entrepreneurs in IGJE that is conceptually based as situated theoretically within feminism’s second wave through a social construction view of sex and of gender. As a body, the literature lacks the infusion of critical race theory and post-colonial narratives. Much of the research claims to discuss “women” but it often does not concern all women.
Intersectionality as a third and fourth wave focus provides a deeper and more nuanced view of gender by inviting everyone in through the visibility of intersecting identity concepts such as (presumed) ancestral origins, age, sexual expression, skin color and gender expression. The fourth wave brings us the potential to explode the gender binary condition in less hierarchical and structured ways. At the limit of the logical extension, Nicholson claims we will move beyond gender to personhood as an operating assumption (2014).
My reflection then concerns the degree to which the IJGE community seeks to be a journal about gender including the meaning of gender, and its application strands. Then, how this relates to strengthening the contribution of scholarship to gender equity in practice for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
Connections to practice
To prepare this paper, I spoke independently with five people deeply engaged professionally in developing solutions that build equity-creating pathways for women entrepreneurs in the USA and internationally. I acknowledge their collective focus on the Global North as a bias within this analysis:
Kim Folsom (KFO) is a co-founder of Founders First Capital Partners, LLC, an organization based in California (USA) and working nationally to empower underserved groups of business owners by providing them with access to expertise and resources that enable them to build sustainable, profitable, and accretive legacy businesses.
Barbara Clarke (BC), an owner and member of the board of directors of Portfolia, a company that invests in capital-efficient companies, with gender-balanced teams in areas where women make markets. She is also a member of the Rising Tide Fund Europe which is building a global movement to increase women’s participation in angel investing as an asset class.
Kathryn Finney (KFI) is the founder of digital undivided, a social enterprise that takes an innovative, transformative approach to economic empowerment by encouraging people to own their economic security through entrepreneurship. Committed to research, knowledge and community, digital undivided leads Black and Latina women entrepreneurs from idea through start-up to market reach.
Yuka Nagashima (YN), owner and chief strategist of Paideia Enterprises, specializing in innovation and strategic vision, offering pragmatic solutions to organizational challenges. Yuka also serves as a program manager at Keizai Silicon Valley, an organization building business connections between the USA and Japan.
Sharon Vosmek (SV) is the CEO of Astia, a managing director of the Astia Fund and a managing member of Astia Angels. Astia is a pre-eminent international organization working to ensure the success of high-growth start-ups led by women.
Our 1-on-1 interviews were structured around the following questions:
Are you aware of academic work being conducted on women, gender and entrepreneurship? Do you work with academics?
What (data, information, research) do you wish you had?
How do you see science, data, information […] as informing the work you do […] or how could it better inform the work you do?
How can academics serve?
My thematic analysis of these interviews led me to identify four primary ways that academics can support social action around gender equity:
Do original research and promote research that makes our knowledge of entrepreneurship more representative.
Share specialized scholarship skills in activist arenas.
Make the results of academic research available to practitioners and policymakers.
Review and validate or discredit circulating information.
In the next sections, I discuss these four conclusions individually.
Do original research – promote representative work
An academic can enact a research agenda to provide platform level knowledge to support current-day feminist activism around gender and around women in entrepreneurship. We can deliver language, ideas, frameworks, data and analysis not otherwise available. In these interviews, my informants particularly and passionately reflected on the need for research attention to intersectionality to deliver a broader view and support path for women entrepreneurs. All agreed that “usually when research talks women, it is talking about white, middle and upper-class women” (Sharon Vosmek). The existing body of research was considered biased in that it is not believed to be reflective of color, class and origin story elements, for example:
(KFI): When I started my work there wasn’t any research on women of color entrepreneurs (in the U.S.) […]. there wasn’t anything out there.
(YN): Me being an immigrant has defined who I am today […]. even female entrepreneurship doesn’t feel like the right category […]. it’s opportunity and the lack thereof (based on my immigrant status).
(KFO): Most people don’t get 5 miles outside of their community. If you don’t travel outside of your community, especially if you are in a low-income community, you are under-educated, you have all kinds of issues […] so many differences […] but you don’t find research (on entrepreneurship) that talks about that. It views all folks that are of a specific racial or ethnic demographic as the same, and they’re not.
(YN): (The difference) between rich and poor […] suburban and urban (may be) more important than whether we are men or women.
Meaningful differences in the entrepreneurial experience are believed to exist across population-level identities. In response to the question, how useful is current research on women entrepreneurs to you? Kathryn Finney responded:
Probably not really. It’s not who the researcher is, it’s the population […] there are a lot of assumptions in women’s entrepreneurship that are patently not true for African American (female) entrepreneurs. One data point (a lot discussed): women don’t show up. We sit in the back of the room and don’t show up. (But African-American women) are raising our hands and jumping up and down […] we want to do it, give us a chance […] throw us the ball. HEY! (laughs) […] A lot of research in entrepreneurship says that women are […] passive, we need to get in there with the boys – for certain groups that is true, but not for African American women.
Further, this is not only differences in orientation or experience but also differences in the experiences accrued through overt, covert and unconscious discrimination of women entrepreneurs based on sex, color, income, origin story, sexual orientation and more:
(SV): Black women entrepreneurs get more probed. “Do you know what you are doing? […]” Can I trust you?” Asian women tend to be treated as competent, but they get, “I don’t see them as a leader – being able to make the hard decisions […] being assertive, recruiting a team”.
(KFO): I wanted to run a business. I was inspired by Bill Gates […]. When I told people that – between when I got out of undergraduate until I launched something – you would think I either wanted to rob a bank or go to the moon […] two things that someone who looked like me didn’t do. Twenty-five years later, there’s a lot more people that look like me who are trying to get there. The ecosystem to support us doing that is not there. (Assumptions about) the potential of underrepresented females to run a major enterprise is grossly under-estimated.
(BC): I’ve seen enough Asian and black women (working to establish themselves as entrepreneurs) to make some generalizations. Both those groups tend to be much more educated and well qualified – more knowledge, certifications – more than a white woman and certainly more than a white guy.
(SV): What I am clear about […] for African American female CEOs […] they truly have something very different going on […]. It is straight up racism. Here are the words: “She’s too angry.”, “I’m not sure if I can believe her numbers”[…].
Practitioner recommendations for specific, needed research projects are included in: ideas from practitioners on needed research at the intersection of gender and entrepreneurship:
(KFO): We need research on business issues for people in low to moderate-income areas. (We need to know) how businesses in these areas generate revenue and jobs. This data is not available. It is (about) economic wealth and job creation in those communities.
(YN): Entrepreneurship is an experiential apprenticeship: who are women entrepreneurs apprenticing with?
(BC): We are not paying enough attention to the little businesses […] there are a lot of companies that I see where risk capital is not appropriate. What do they do then? How do they grow?
(BC): Funding sources are continually changing. Entrepreneurs need different networks and relationships. We need to know more about that – especially for women. Nothing is standing still.
(SV): I do like some research to show that entrepreneurs regardless of race and gender if they raise a friends and family round, their likelihood of raising follow-on capital increases. That might be a way to fight racism in capital access.
(YN): Given the limitations, let us look at something that actually did work, that was inclusive, can we import that back in […] Study those bright spots and see what indigenous stuff we’ve got –
(BC): There are definitely a lot of research opportunities (for academics) in the silos – ed tech (for example); that’s based on research […].product invention. Double-blind studies of the products. Consumer response always a ripe piece.
(KF): (We need) some research on: What is success for a woman of color start-up? What is success for a black woman startup? For a Latina? (Our society has a) one size fits all determination of success – that you have to IPO for a billion dollars. But if are a woman of color, and you sell a company for 10 million – and retain a good percentage of equity – that’s going to have a huge impact on your life and your family’s life […] like that’s not a small thing for our community. And so, research that […] looks at that and helps give some thought to how to redefine success would be really interesting.
Share specialized scholarship skills in activist arenas
There were two major ways that my discussants identified the skills of academics as being useful to their work above authoring research. Both have to do with the capacity to ruminate and develop ways of seeing things that are often unavailable to practitioners because they lack the time for reflection, and they lack the conceptual world where academic work plays with alternatives frames.
Academics can serve as informed outside experts delivering fresh and/or critical points of view. Sharon Vosmek, who has advocated for equity for women entrepreneurs for over 20 years, articulated this as the need for thinking skills:
I do believe that entrepreneurship, be it micro or high growth, or something in-between, has a degree of commonality as there are a certain set of myths that keep getting applied to women that don’t work. Mistakes are propagated over and over again. We need people who can take the time to think about and articulate this.
Practitioners say that academics can provide a balcony-level view:
Academics bring the query: the who, the what, the how, the measure […] the reflective voice that says, really? Was that what happened? Or maybe […] this? (Sharon Vosmek).
The second skill-set application of academics involves framing: the way we participate in our community of scholarship and beyond to select and valorize research stories. What is worth studying? What is worth learning about? What is worth teaching? What articles do we review? What articles do we select for special issues, for conference presentations? Are the authors representative? What are we valuing in those decisions? The entrepreneurship field has created a spotlight on high-growth, venture capital-backed firms one cost of which is a systemic bias that excludes and/or marginalizes the experience of women entrepreneurs. This bias is visible in the story of entrepreneurship in practice, the media, education, government policy and academic scholarship which co-define: What is opportunity? What is success? What matters? and Who do we observe? As Barbara Clarke states, “How the entrepreneurship community now defines success was determined by investors – why is that the standard?”
The kinds of businesses valorized within this system may not apply to success stories widely experienced.
(KFO): (For the population of firms and entrepreneurs I work with), success is not just starting a business, funding a business. (It’s) whether or not what you are starting is scalable […] people can acquire the expertise of growing something to a healthy 8-9 figure business.” To this viewpoint, Kathryn Finney applies a cultural perspective: What is success? I’m going to scale to $10M-$100M then I’ll be able to do things I want to do for our community that I want to do. For tech people, it’s culturally important to have a ping pong table, but for us, it’s more important to support our cousin who has a hair salon. That’s a cultural reality VCs don’t get.”
Interviewees reported how the current system of entrepreneurship (scholarship and practice) does not serve, and in fact, harms women entrepreneurs because women’s lived experience does not match the norm of “successful entrepreneur”. We can call the perpetuation of this gap a “myth” but it is more complicated than that: it is also unconscious, covert and overt bias with a force directed to “keeping the system as is” as an inherent part of its reproduction, data and points of view.
Another way entrepreneurship academics participate in framing is their importing of scholarship on gender (writ large) into the discipline and the views of practice that this creates for themselves and for others. As Yuka Nagashima expressed, “We have a lot of false dichotomies in life with male-female being one of them.” This third and fourth wave view can be brought into the research body to create scholarship that is reflective of current theorizing and practice in use. Entrepreneurship research on gender can investigate how emerging ideas of gender influence entrepreneurship in practice providing frameworks useful to practitioners.
Make the results of academic research available
An old story with increasing power in the age of social media relates to the way academics share their created knowledge with the world. Should we be making it our business to distribute our work beyond the academy? Practitioners expressed strong opinions:
(Barbara Clarke): Academic publishing standards continue to require a form of writing that is intelligible (and boring) outside of social science expertise. Why is that? Do better. And from Sharon Vosmek: Academics are still writing books, but often for the academic press, and prices are too high for laymen and students. The day of the $60 book is over.
How should we share our work?
(KFI): Use bridging publications like Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Stanford Business to reach alums who are a significant swatch of business movers and shakers. And reach out to practitioners: (KFI): If you’ve done a study of relevance, come and tell us about it! We want to know what you are learning […] […] And, of course, the internet: blogs, websites, webinars. (KFO): Academics are not using the internet very effectively to share their knowledge – consider e-books offered online as an outlet to people in the field.
Teaching can still use more relevance:
(SV): The businesses cases that are written are often not well written. We need academics to do those business cases so that we can replicate entrepreneurship […] We need professors who are teaching entrepreneurship – who can really teach that this is about relationships: here are the capital flows […].how to negotiate terms […] that should be taught by proper academics, not by investors who have a vested interest in validating their own investing decisions […] […] women will benefit.
Related to the big picture thinking discussed in the prior section: (Barbara Clarke) Serve on boards, participate in policy forums, and be bold in exposing and naming discrimination to make remedial change. Now I see lip service in this regard if anything at all. Appointments to activist advisory boards and government committees also provide a forum to share an informed point of view, multiple interviewees noted.
Review and validate or discredit circulating information
Research is hitting the media and the internet from corporate, government and service provider sources in increasing amounts. Is it significant? How should results be interpreted? Concerns with reliability, validity, context, data definition and data interpretation for knowledge points circulating publicly are of concern. (Barbara Clarke): I see a lot of garbage (statistics) out there – programs touting the percentage of women they have. A team of 10 with 1 woman gets a count of 1 (binary 0 or 1) – who can counter that?
Academics can serve as a check on circulating data. “Facts” are sourced from research of some level of quality that make important assumptions that are usually invisible to consumer readers. (Sharon Vosmek): (We need to) validate the work that’s been done on all kinds of entrepreneurship by corporates and non-profits. Is it good? Is it valid? Or is it marketing? Activist organizations are also collecting their own data. Digital undivided produces The Diane Project, a biennial demographic study that provides a snapshot of the state of black women entrepreneurs in the United States. Kathryn Finney reports:
(We established ethnicity from the records) […] combed through Crunchbase. Mattermark, Pitchbook […] anyone who could possibly have been African American – we contacted directly - asked how they identified themselves – from there we got our 2016 number – the response rate was about 65-70 per cent. We would like validation of this research.
The theme of privately built and owned databases was also discussed by Barbara Clarke:
(We build our knowledge on) startups with CB Insights, Pitchbook, Techcrunch – (this is) problematic because of the underlying data they are pulling […]. Pitchbook somehow (?) simplifies the data. If you did a check of how many deals (a women-focused fund) was a part of (in Pitchbook) – you’ll see a substantially smaller number – maybe 10/50 – because that’s the number we led (rather than the number we participated in). We generally assume that these companies are the guardians of the data […] but how representative is this data of real experience?
Multiple informants saw a real value in academics considering the validity and reliability of the databases that define the entrepreneurship ecosystem for many different stakeholders.
Concluding this section, the practitioners I interviewed saw the potential of a robust role for academics of gender and entrepreneurship to contribute to their work on the ground and to the wider social conversation about the outcomes and value of entrepreneurship and about the process and challenges of entrepreneurship in practice. They asked for academics to do a better job looking at the entire field more completely, in addressing issues pressing in the field, and in providing their specialized insight as a function of day-to-day work.
Discussion and recommendations
In developing this reflective paper, I found threads of ideas stretching from the IJGE body of work (as situated in a wider field of gender and entrepreneurship research) through current conceptual ideas of gender and on into the thoughts and recommendations of practitioners as to how academics might serve an activist agenda. Overall, a finding of this work is that gender research in entrepreneurship could better integrate the gender theory landscape and attend to issues on the ground identified by practitioners advocating with and for entrepreneurs. Concerns of the practitioners I spoke to reflected third and fourth-wave feminist concerns about intersectionality, representativeness, the empowerment of (all) women and social media as tools of change.
We can build a more practitioner sensitive research agenda and there are two kinds of literature about academic life that provide insight. Academic-practitioner interaction includes work by Bartunek and Rynes (2014), that identifies the gap between academics and practitioners as “differing logics, time dimensions, communication styles, rigor and relevance and interests and incentives” (2018; p. 37). The authors suggest that these factors present as paradoxes and that they can be managed as positives; that their inherent tension can feed research and theorizing. Barrett and Oborn (2018) highlight interpretive epistemologies that carry us beyond the positivist. They believe that these philosophical positions have “opened the door for multiple interpretations of data to be viewed as legitimate” (2014; p. 44). They promote reflection on the different forms of expertise that academics and practitioners bring to the relationship and suggest that academics can leverage their expertise employing strategies such as: maintaining critical distance, promoting deeper engagement, developing prescience and achieving hybrid practices.
Also addressing academic outreach, Van de Ven (2018) proposes we consider practitioners not as the recipients of research but its co-generators. He espouses the value of academics posing journalistic questions – who, what, when, where, how and why – a framemaking approach that my interviewees said academics bring to the table. Further, Bartunek (2014) discusses how the researcher’s choice of method leads one to or away from practice. Organizational development interventions including action research, appreciative inquiry and learning organization approaches keep the researcher closer to entrepreneurship’s lived experience. Some of these OD style techniques could be usefully mined by more gender and entrepreneurship scholars today. Would not that be interesting?
In terms of dissemination, Bartunek (2014) gives the example of the well-regarded academic journal, Management and Organization Review, which publishes bilingually (Chinese-English) and also delivers a sister publication, Chinese Management Insights, that converts leading academic journals on relevant topics into 3-page summaries that are accessible to managers. Further, it publishes interviews with managers on their perspectives and best practices (IACMR (International Association of Chinese Management Research), 2019). Perhaps a model to consider.
In terms of practitioner oriented scholarship, I would note and thank the authors of the following works published in IJGE that I believe can serve as guidepost and even models of this type of bridging: Orser et al. (2019); Katre (2019); Rosenbaum (2019); Smith and Neergaard (2015); and Langevang et al. (2018).
A second body of work addresses the activist academic more directly. Khasnabish and Haiven (2015) in their article, “Outside But Along-side: Stumbling with Social Movements as Academic Activists”, consider how “the particular complexities of the fraught field and habitus of the would-be academic-activist might be critically assessed and best mobilized to assist in the reproduction of movements” (2015; p. 18). They suggest we, “explore the possibilities for leveraging the complex and fraught privileges and opportunities provided to academics to create resources for movements that they might not otherwise possess or create” (Khasnabish and Haiven, 2015; p. 18). Distinguishing invocation (i.e. researchers observing and reporting on social activists) from avocation, (i.e. researchers directly engaged in practitioner work), they discuss the “difficulties inherent in practicing these methods within the austere realities and pressures of the neoliberal university” (2015; p. 18). Other thoughtful pieces in this genre include Chowkwanyun (2017), Calavita (2002) and Callahan and Elliott (2019). Together with this work sits the invitation to reach others via social media and more formal outlets, sharing expertise in multiple settings, and a commitment to spanning the gender conversation in entrepreneurship and the wider social sciences.
Practitioner and academic knowledge are distinct ways of knowing; academics can underlay, enrich, complexify and broadcast what we know about women, gender and entrepreneurship. We can also work within, and along-side social movements. Synthesis across scholarship and activism can contribute, particularly in framing the big issues, leading the thoughtful conversation and establishing the validity and reliability of data and databases. Radical thinking on women and gender from our current base is possible and needed. Researchers of gender and entrepreneurship could contribute more to making things more equitable for the people and systems we study.
|Feminist wave||Period (approximate)||Focus|
|First wave||Late 1800 s – 1920s||Advocating for women to become full human subjects: voting rights, access to education, property rights, personal freedoms for example, to choose marriage partners|
|Second wave||1960s to early 1990s||Recognition of cultural and political inequalities for women: the personal is political. Particularly focused on white women with status though there were intersecting points with the civil rights, gay rights and other social movements. The individual was placed in context (e.g. the sexist institution) and still identified. Articulation of radical feminist, Marxist-socialist, constructionist, ecofeminist, psychoanalytic and cultural theories of sex and gender. Postmodernist rejection of grand narratives led to critique|
|Third wave||Early 1990s to around 2008||White, middle-class, global North focus is challenged. Queer, postmodern, postcolonial theories and intersectionality come forward. Fixed ideas of sex and gender further distinguished and rejected as reality. Gender articulated as a component of social identity wrapped within intersectionality, particularly with class, ethnicity, color, origin story, age and sexual orientation. Fundamental but untenable ideas were questioned including sex and gender as binary, stand-alone concerns|
|Fourth wave||2008 forward …||A focus on the empowerment of women and the use of social media as tools. Individuality prioritized through identity constructions using intersectionality principles. Power systems move beyond individual institutions to systems of power that stratify and impact traditionally marginalized groups. Activism is managed online in politics and business (e.g. #metoo, blacklivesmatter, theeverydaysexismproject). Diversity and inclusion benefits defined as social and economic. Feminist dialogue extends more deliberately to men and boys and their constrictions due to gender norms|
Barrett, M. and Oborn, E. (2018), “Bridging the research-practice divide: harnessing expertise collaboration in making a wider set of contributions”, Information and Organization, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 44-51.
Bartunek, J. (2014), “Academic–practitioner relationships”, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 401-422.
Bartunek, J. and Rynes, S. (2014), “Academics and practitioners are alike and unlike: the paradoxes of academic–practitioner relationships”, Journal of Management, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 1181-1201.
Bateson, M.C. (1990), Composing a Life, Grove Press, New York, NY.
Bijedic, T. and Piper, A. (2019), “Different strokes for different folks: the job satisfaction of the self-employed and the intersection of gender and migration background”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 227-247.
Braidotti, R. (1994), Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, Columbia University Press, New York, NY.
Calavita, K. (2002), “Engaged research, goose bumps, and the role of the public intellectual: presidential address and commentaries”, Law and Society Review, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 5-10.
Callahan, J. and Elliott, C. (2019), “Fantasy spaces and emotional derailment: reflections on failure in academic activism, organization”, available at: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/37832/1/Callahan%2C%20Elliott%20-%20Fantasy%20Spaces%20and%20Emotional%20Derailment%20AAM.pdf (accessed 20 November 2019)
Choukir, J., Aloulou, W., Ayadi, F. and Mseddi, S. (2019), “Influences of role models and gender on Saudi Arabian freshman students’ entrepreneurial intention”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 186-206.
Chowkwanyun, M. (2017), “Michael Katz and the academic-activist tension”, Social Science History, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 772-776.
Cochrane, K. (2013), All the Rebel Women: The Rise of the Fourth Wave of Feminism, Guardian Books, London.
Diamond, D. (2009), “The fourth wave of feminism: psychoanalytic perspectives”, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 213-223.
Evans, E. and Chamberlain, P. (2015), “Critical waves: exploring feminist identity discourse and praxis in western feminism”, Social Movement Studies, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 396 -409.
Fisher, V. and Nicholson, S., (Eds), (2014), Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, SUNYpress, Albany, New York, NY.
Gather, C., Schürmann, L. and Zipprian, H. (2016), “Self-employment of men supported by female breadwinners”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 353-372.
Gillis, S., Howie, G. and Munford, R. (2004), Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
Given, L., (Ed.), (2008), Lived Experience, Entry in the SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods, SAGE Publications, Los Angeles, available at: www.yanchukvladimir.com/docs/Library/Sage%20Encyclopedia%20of%20Qualitative%20Research%20Methods-%202008.pdf (accessed 1 November 2019).
Heywood, L. (2006), The Women’s Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third-Wave Feminism, Vol. 1, A-Z. Greenwood, Westport, CT.
IACMR (International Association of Chinese Management Research) (2019), available at: www.iacmr.org/english.php?c=show&id=230 (accessed 20 March 2019).
Katre, A. (2019), “Facilitating affective experiences to stimulate women’s entrepreneurship in rural India”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 270-288.
Khasnabish, A. and Haiven, M. (2015), “Outside but along-side: stumbling with social movements as academic activists”, Studies in Social Justice, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 18-33.
Langevang, T., Hansen, M. and Rutashobva, L. (2018), “Navigating institutional complexities”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 224-242.
Nelson, T. and Constantinidis, C. (2017), “Sex and gender in family business succession research: a review and forward agenda from a social construction perspective”, Family Business Review, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 219-241.
Nicholson, S. (2014), “Defining woman: from first wave to integral feminism”, in Fisher, V. and Nicholson, S. (Eds), Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, SUNYpress, Albany, New York, NY.
Orser, B., Riding, A. and Li, Y. (2019), “Technology adoption and gender-inclusive entrepreneurship education and training”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 236-265.
Rosenbaum, G. (2019), “The role of export promotion programs in the internationalisation of female-owned enterprises”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 323-347.
Smith, R. and Neergaard, H. (2015), “Telling business stories as fellow-ship tales”, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 232-252.
Snyder, R.C. (2008), “What is third wave feminism? A new directions essay”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 175-196.
Springer, K. (2002), “Third wave black feminism?”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 1059-1082.
Van de Ven, A. (2018), “Academic- practitioner engaged scholarship”, Information and Organization, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 37-43.
Walker, R. (1992), “Becoming the third wave. Ms. Magazine”, pp. 39-41, available at: https://teachrock.org/wp-content/uploads/Handout-1-Rebecca-Walker-%E2%80%9CI-Am-the-Third-Wave%E2%80%9D.pdf?x96081 (accessed 8 November 2018).
Bartunek, J. (2007), “Academic-practitioner collaboration need not require joint or relevant research: toward a relational scholarship of integration”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 50 No. 6, pp. 1323-1333.
Van de Ven, A. (2007), Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Thanks to Colette Henry for including me in this special project. And to the women, I interviewed – extraordinary leaders all – who truly help carry the flag for inclusive entrepreneurship in a very spirited, intelligent and productive way.