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Resilient gender order in entrepreneurship: the case of Swedish welfare industries

Birgitta Sköld (Linköping University)
Malin Tillmar (Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, Sweden)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this article is to use quantitative empirical data to analyse the degree of resilience, as well as change or reproduction of the gender order, in the era of New Public Management. The propositions are constructed based on liberal- and socialist-feminist perspectives, and discussed in light of the empirical results.


We report from a longitudinal quantitative study of female-dominated welfare industries. Data, available from Statistics Sweden, include the total population of entrepreneurs available on the individual level. However, the level of analysis that was used in the study was in accordance with the industry level. Data were processed from an aggregated level to the most detailed level of classification.


The findings reveal resilience in the prevailing gender order. The order is being reproduced in the entrepreneurship context, in most of the industries that were studied.

Practical implications

The results may potentially have profound impact on entrepreneurship policy, equality policy and public sector restructuring.


This quantitative longitudinal study shows a complex pattern on the detailed industry level, which can be understood in terms of male gender labelling of entrepreneurship. The results thus support previous qualitative studies that have observed this phenomenon. Methodologically, this paper contributes to the field by showing that without breaking down the analysis into the different female-dominated industries on a five-digit level, the various results of the public sector reforms and the attendant gendered effects would not have been revealed.



The authors gratefully acknowledge Vinnova, the programme for women’s entrepreneurship, Vetenskapsrådet – the Embla project – and the department of Business Administration at Linköping University for funding and for enabling this research. The authors also wish to acknowledge the research institute REMESO and the Vinn Excellence centre HELIX at Linköping University for collaboration. The authors also wish to thank especially Professor Elisabeth Sundin and Associate Professor Martin Klinthäll, Linköping University, for valuable cooperation and fruitful feedback from the early stages of this research. Thanks also to anonymous reviewers and the editor for constructive feedback on previous versions of this article.


Sköld, B. and Tillmar, M. (2015), "Resilient gender order in entrepreneurship: the case of Swedish welfare industries", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 2-26.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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