I am a Senior Lecturer in Management at Queen’s Management School with an interest in how gender shapes and informs women’s experiences of entrepreneurial activity.
At Queen’s Management School, our teaching philosophy is research-led and practice-driven teaching. Therefore, students are taught by staff who bring their latest research findings into the lecture theatre. I am the module coordinator of the final year module Entrepreneurship – which is an optional module taken by Business Management, Business Economics, Accountancy and International Business with Modern Language students. One of the tools I use in my module is music –and my module has its very own entrepreneurship playlist! So I thought I would use song titles in this blog to illustrate the changing role and status of female entrepreneurship in the academic literature and in today’s business context.
What it feels like for a girl – Madonna
As a research area, female entrepreneurship is still relativity young. Indeed, the first academic paper which represented the start of a stream of research detailing women’s experiences of business ownership was only published in 1976 in the Journal of Contemporary Business and was called “Entrepreneurship: A new female frontier” by Eleanor Schwartz. Prior to this entrepreneurship was considered to be a gender neutral concept (Bruni et al., 2004) with the term entrepreneur, which originates from the French word entreprendre (to undertake) referring to a generic creature (De Bruin et al., 2006). Since the early 1990s, it is fair to suggest that the literature on female entrepreneurship has grown from a mere trickle to a veritable flood!
It’s a man world – James Brown
Despite female entrepreneurship gaining increasing attention in the 1990s, entrepreneurship has produced its own subject; the entrepreneur and not the entrepreneuse! Indeed, entrepreneurship has traditionally been associated with men and considered as a form of masculinity. Some have even gone so far to claim that entrepreneurship requires high levels of testosterone (Guiso and Rustichini, 2011). Helene Ahl in her seminal piece in 2004, drew our attention to how those characteristics linked to men are seamlessly associated with the entrepreneurial character and concluded that the entrepreneur is ‘consistently described in exactly the same words as those used to describe manhood’ (Ahl 2007: 687).
If I were a boy – Beyoncé
Accordingly, the body of work which emerged at the turn of the twenty first century had the embedded message of ‘think entrepreneur, think male’. This in turn promoted a range of policy interventions which were aimed at helping women imitate the behaviours of men and to adopt “honorary man personas”. In other words – how to ‘fix’ the problem of the female entrepreneur and provide them with the tools and skills to become more like men in order for them to compete in a man’s world!
We Don’t Need another Hero –Tina Turner
However, it is fair to say that the analytical tone of the literature is now shifting and there is recognition that it is no longer appropriate to use the ‘male’ as the benchmark against which female-owned businesses must aspire to. This has been coupled with the emergence of strong female entrepreneurs; we need only think of well-known brands such as He-Shi, Space Nk, Vita Liberata, Jo Malone to name a few. There is no doubt that the female entrepreneur has arrived. Thus, it is no longer appropriate to promote the role and status of the entrepreneur as a modern day hero and not refer to modern day heroines!
In order to support the emergence of such heroines, two things are necessary, accessibility to role models and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy which comes from social learning theory is the confidence, not the competence that we have what it takes to be successful. One way in which I build entrepreneurial self-efficacy amongst my students is through the business plan project, whereby students have to construct a business plan for an innovative high growth product or service. Regardless of whether students have entrepreneurial ambitions or not, this project is an excellent way to enhance an individual’s creativity, negotiating, influencing and selling skills, all deemed important in today’s business domain.
Sisters are doing it for themselves – Eurythmics
I am now going to conclude this blog with referring to one of my students from last year’s class, Ciara Flanagan whose business plan won 3rd place in the Santander UK Student Business Plan Competition and who has since gone on to set up her own business – mybeautyfind.com
You can listen to some of the music mentioned above in the spotify playlist below:
Let us know what music gets your creativity flowing by leaving the song title and artist in the comment box below and we’ll add it to the playlist if available.
Study at Queen’s Management School: