Is Female Entrepreneurship within Entrepreneurship a response to the various Gendered Entrepreneurship sectors?

Sundas Hussain, Charlotte Carey, Steve Harding

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper critically examines scholarly articles and develops and provides a conceptual framework for future research: seeking to understand motivations and attitudes towards entrepreneurship of long-term unemployed, female, social housing tenants, in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, to better understand the role housing association could take in supporting entrepreneurial activity. The main topics drawn upon in this conceptual paper are literature surrounding entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, UK government entrepreneurship policies, ethnic minority entrepreneurship, disadvantaged groups and female entrepreneurship, to provide context. Finally, the following research outcome anticipated from examining of this scholarly literature is to form a framework for the undertaking of further research into how a housing association could foster a culture of entrepreneurship among their long-term unemployed female tenants, as a path to employment, in Balsall Heath, Birmingham. ‘Today, the term entrepreneur is no longer dominated by males’ (Narayanasamy et al., 2011:17). Thus the long standing debate between male entrepreneurship and female entrepreneurship exists, about the gender dominance in this discipline. Marlow argues that entrepreneurship is masculinised suggesting that it is dominated by male researchers and writers such as Schumpeter, Kirzner and Knight (1996). In contrast to this, female entrepreneurship is made up of feminist discussions (Marlow 1996, 2006; Pardo-del-Val, 2010), however it could be suggested that entrepreneurship is masculinised therefore female entrepreneurship endeavours to break away from the typical male entrepreneur stereotype. Additionally, this may be a response to a large portion of research within female entrepreneurship that personifies or highlights others personifying female entrepreneurs in a rather negative light (Marlow et al., 2009; Narayanasamy et al., 2011; Okafor, 2010; Patterson et al., 2012; Sexton and Bownman-Upton, 1990). The field of entrepreneurship and within that female entrepreneurship is incredibly complex as Brazeal and Herbert acknowledge suggesting that entrepreneurship is a ‘perplexing discipline’ due to the various perspectives within this large field, adding to the complexity in understanding entrepreneurship (1999). Research into ethnic minority entrepreneurship highlights similar issues faced by women, with ethnic minority entrepreneurs experiencing additional hurdles such as race, religion, culture and family ties (Clark and Drinkwater, 2000; Fadahunsi et al., 2000; Heilman and Chen, 2003; Ahl, 2006; Kwong et al., 2009). Similarities to female entrepreneurship include lower paid jobs, difficulty in career advancement and of course gender (Heilman and Chen, 2003; Ahl, 2006; Verduijn and Essers, 2013). Yet unlike female entrepreneurship ethnic minorities seem to be presented more positively, through the number of positive aspects to ethnic minority entrepreneurship, some examples include deeming their success to hard work embedded through culture and tight knitted family structures who also play much involvement within the ethnic minority entrepreneurs enterprise but also the involvement through hiring and support of other ethnic minorities (McEvoy and Hafeez, 2009); Another key aspect in ethnic minorities is the action of practice based learning, many ethnic minority entrepreneurs are cultivated through learning from an existing ethnic minority entrepreneur before venturing into the creation of their own enterprise (Aldrich and Waldinger, 1990). A similar conflict, to the masculinisation of entrepreneurship, has been identified within entrepreneurship education, of this discipline being gendered (Pathak et al., 2013), specifically that the language used within entrepreneurship education is masculine and stereotyped (Jones, 2010). Further debates include much research suggesting that the pedagogies used within entrepreneurship education are unsuitable, and that they need to be re-evaluated in order to reflect real world preparation for students (Higgins et al., 2013) which ties in well with Rae’s practice-based theory (2004b). As with entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, UK government entrepreneurship policy could also be argued to be masculinised through its policies, and that this is through the influences of the male dominated and gendered disciplines of entrepreneurship and education (Jones, 2012). Due to this, policies have resulted in providing inadequate support and realistically unmeasurable for female and ethnic minority entrepreneurship (Marlow, 2006; Fadahunsi et al., 2000, Thompson et al., 2009; Pardo-del-Val, 2010; Hyitti and O'Gorman, 2004). The current and key entrepreneurial government policy examined in this paper is the New Enterprise Allowance. The New Enterprise Allowance is available to the unemployed and wishing to set up their own enterprise, who are given an allowance to do this. Marlow opinions that current policies are scrutinising towards this group of individuals (2006), whilst lack of networks and relationships, and work experience and qualifications are the main hindrances for such a group of individuals (Bull and Willard, 2003; Aldrich and Martinez, 2001; Marlow, 2006). The critical analysis of the literature reviewed can be summarised as: highlighting an emerging recognition that existent entrepreneurship theories may not be useable for practical application within all entrepreneurship working environments (Higgins et al., 2013; Rae, 2004b; Zahra, 2007). The contribution to knowledge identifies a paucity of applicable entrepreneurship theories and sets a basis for significant theory generation within a practical environment, for female entrepreneurs, applicable to the entrepreneur (Rae, 2004b). As entrepreneurs utilise informal approaches that are pragmatic solutions appropriate to themselves and which are sense-making to them via their own personal encounters (Higgins et al., 2013), they are often more than not sceptical to reach out to theoretical hypothesises. Possibly the incentive that researchers themselves contest that plausible theory is deficient within the entrepreneurship (Phan, 2004; Zahra, 2005) is moderately why entrepreneurs are swift to reject academic theory. Finally, it is predetermined that the outcome of future research necessitates to have a practical legitimacy, as much as theoretical, to be able to achieve the purpose of women and ethnic minorities utilising entrepreneurship as a path to employment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event39th IBSE -Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference - Novotel Tour Eiffel, Paris, France
Duration: 27 Oct 201628 Oct 2016


Conference39th IBSE -Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference


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