Gender, Work and Organisation
9th Biennial International Interdisciplinary conference
29th June-1st July, 2016
Keele University, UK
Entrepreneurship and feminist-theoretical perspectives
- Helene Ahl, Education & Communication, Jönköping University, SWEDEN
- Karin Berglund, Business School, Stockholm University, SWEDEN
- Susan Marlow, Business School, Nottingham University, ENGLAND
- Katarina Pettersson, Social & Ec. Geography, University of Agricultural Sciences, SWEDEN
- Malin Tillmar, Management and Engineering, Linköping University, SWEDEN
This stream calls for papers that respond to calls for research on entrepreneurship incorporating critical and feminist-theoretical perspectives affording attention to how entrepreneurship is shaped by a variety contexts. Research on women’s entrepreneurship now constitutes a mature field of study. A recent systematic literature review has identified over 600 academic articles on gender and women’s entrepreneurship (Jennings and Brush 2013). Critical analysts have found the field to be characterized by an Anglo-Saxon dominance, with a concentration on issues of ‘performance’ and ‘growth’ (Al Dajani and Marlow, 2010; Marlow, 2014). There is also a tendency to consider ‘gender’ as a variable (i.e. equivalent to sex) with explanatory power (Ahl 2006; Neergaard et al. 2011), instead of considering ‘gender’ as the relational and socially-constructed concept as originally defined (Ahl 2007). Most studies of women’s entrepreneurship are set in a male–female comparative frame, and explanations are sought for women’s “underperformance” (Marlow and McAdam 2012). However, this under-performance disappears when one controls for sector; men and women in businesses that are comparable in terms of business sector perform equally well (Robb and Watson 2012; Watson 2002). This particular area of research has been criticized for (i) inadvertently subordinating women through a normative assumption of entrepreneurship as being ‘male’, (ii) its individualist focus, (iii) its lack of attention to context and structure (Ahl 2006; Mirchandani 1999; Al Dajani and Marlow, 2010), and, not least, (iv) its neglect of how entrepreneurship is embedded in family (Jennings et al. 2013). Consequently, calls have been made for the study of women’s entrepreneurship in context (de Bruin et al. 2007; Brush et al. 2009; Welter 2011), as well as for the incorporation of critical, feminist-theoretical perspectives (Ahl and Marlow 2012; Bruni et al. 2004; Calás et al. 2009).
Entrepreneurship research often assumes gender equality to be merely an increase in economic participation or economic parity with men through business ownership (Gatewood et al. 2014). Feminist critiques suggest that entrepreneurship risks shaping women into exemplary neoliberal citizens who may no longer recognize, or even appreciate, structural remedies put in place by earlier, collective and political feminist activism (such as quotas, individual taxation or mandatory paternal leave). But it has also been suggested that entrepreneurship may be used as a vehicle for feminist action, where feminist resistance is put into practice through business. This is, in our view, a phenomenon in search of a name. We have coined the term FemInc.ism to denote this phenomenon (Ahl et al., 2014). It can be seen as a special case of the reformulation of entrepreneurship as social change, thereby capturing the many entrepreneurial endeavors that are not businesses, or not just businesses (Steyaert and Hjorth 2006; Calás et al. 2009). A related concept is entrepreneurship as politicizing (Al-Dajani and Marlow 2014). We define FemInc.ism as ‘feminist activism through enterprise’. Through this term we acknowledge the changing conditions for feminist action, in tandem with neoliberal expectations to mobilize oneself through enterprise, but also how this transformation may enable institutional change in private, public, or non-profit sectors through enterprise that is individually or collectively made. So, FemInc.ism gives a name to how institutional change can be created through business. It points to the potential for women and men to use entrepreneurship to achieve feminist change, but the term also points to the risks of being trapped in a situation of feminist backlash that may arise because of structural dissolution. We formulate a number of challenges that researching FemInc.ism is faced with. We claim that research must acknowledge (i) the importance of addressing context, including the time dimension; (ii) the importance of avoiding an a priori position regarding entrepreneurship; (iii) the importance of being open to ambiguities in the interpretation of research results; and finally, (iv) the need to develop feminist theory as well as entrepreneurship theory to adequately describe and understand this phenomenon. Suggested themes that may be addressed are:
• Studies of gendered contextual opportunities or limitations for entrepreneurship
• Developments of feminist theory and entrepreneurship theory
• Studies of entrepreneurship used as a vehicle for feminist action (FemInc.ism)
• Studies of institutional change created through business (FemInc.ism)
• Studies of how feminist action through business (Feminc.ism) affects/transforms femininities and masculinities (and vice versa)
• Discussions of what kind of enterprising selves are shaped through feminist action through business (Feminc.ism)
Abstracts of approximately 500 words (ONE page, Word document NOT PDF, single spaced, excluding references, no header, footers or track changes) are invited by 1st November 2015 with decisions on acceptance to be made by stream leaders within one month. All abstracts will be peer reviewed. New and young scholars with ‘work in progress’ papers are welcomed. In the case of co-authored papers, ONE person should be identified as the corresponding author. Note that due to restrictions of space, multiple submissions by the same author will not be timetabled. In the first instance, abstracts should be emailed to: Karin Berglund. Abstracts should include FULL contact details, including your name, department, institutional affiliation, mailing address, and e-mail address. State the title of the stream to which you are submitting your abstract. *Note that no funding, fee waiver, travel or other bursaries are offered for attendance at GWO2016*.
Please see below a call for papers for an edited book entitled ‘Feminist Beginnings: Being an Early Career Feminist Academic in a Changing Academy’, to be edited by Dr Rachel Thwaites and Dr Amy Godoy-Pressland. Please circulate around your networks.
In a fast-changing higher education academy, where marketisation is increasingly becoming the dominant model, the pressures on academics seem great, while the need to ‘play the game’ to succeed has never been more important. Within this context, entering the academy as an early career academic presents many challenges, as well as possibilities. Moving from the relative autonomy, and often bubble of safety, of the PhD into teaching or research contracts where there may be less flexibility and freedom within the institutional hierarchy, can be a real step change. Early career academics also frequently face the prospect of working on fixed term contracts, with little security and no certain prospect of advancement, while constantly looking for the next contract.
Being a feminist early career academic adds a further layer; how does one maintain one’s feminist identity and politics within what has traditionally been a very male-dominated institution where few women reach the most senior positions? Moreover the ethos of the marketising university where students are sometimes viewed as ‘customers’, may sit uneasily with a politics of equality for all. Feminist values and practice can provide a means of working through the challenges, but may also bring complications. As feminist researchers and teachers ourselves, we feel the impact of trying to live out a feminist politics provides another set of priorities which affect the way one thinks about the everyday and overarching experience of an academic career. This political outlook can lead to transformative events, but can also raise difficulties when in a non-feminist department or a research climate which does not take gender seriously.
This edited volume will thus explore the early years of an academic career from a feminist perspective and should appeal to students and academics at all stages of their careers. We therefore welcome contributions which provide findings from research studies, theory pieces, and experiential/personal pieces. The format of these is open to some interpretation and we will accept pieces of up to 3000 words for a personal piece and up to 8000 words for a theory/research paper on themes including, but not limited to:
* Being a feminist in higher education
* Moving from a women’s/gender studies centre into the wider academic community
* Maintaining your feminist identity
* Feminism in the curriculum and in the classroom
* Negotiating the academic hierarchy as an early career feminist
* Building a feminist support network
* The academic ‘lifestyle’: how to be an ‘academic’
We define ‘early career’ as those within five years of having been awarded their PhD and ‘higher education’ as any university setting. We are actively seeking contributions which will provide a wide international perspective, however they must be written in English.
Deadline for Abstracts: 5th December 2014 (decision to be made by 6th February 2015)
Provisional date for full article: 7th September 2015