On April 27-28 2017, the Gender and Enterprise Network, a Special Interest Group of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship organised and hosted a unique, inspiring and intellectually stimulating think-space for gender theory. Thirty international attendees gathered for two days to learn about and discuss the underpinning philosophies that we use to study gender, with a focus on critical realist philosophy.
Invited speakers included Dr Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough University), Prof John Kitching (Kingston University), Dr Elina Meliou (Newcastle University London), Dr Helen Mussell (Cambridge University), Dr Michiel Van Ingen (London School of Economics), Prof Julia Rouse (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr Angela Martinez Dy (Loughborough University London); Dr Lena Gunnarsson from Lund University in Sweden provided a video presentation.
Topics included the core principles of critical realism, empiricism and social constructionism, agency and reflexivity, feminist standpoint theory and intersectionality, how to be both realist and constructionist about gender, and potential applications for these concepts in gender, entrepreneurship, management and organisation research.
Multiple roundtable sessions and dedicated networking time enabled deeper discussion and debate, creating an open and collaborative learning environment in which participants could query, challenge and examine the concepts presented in the speaker sessions. The content and format of the event aimed to make explicit our often implicit methodological positions as researchers, and in particular, to encourage debate about normative philosophical positions within feminist approaches.
The think-space was co-sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre and the British Academy of Management Gender in Management Special Interest Group, and hosted by the Glendonbrook Institute for Enterprise Development at Loughborough University London. Attendees were positive and enthusiastic, sharing comments like: ‘I learned so much and was able to test and consolidate my thinking in so many ways,’ and ‘Critical realism resonates with me as a framework and I’m keen to explore it more.’ The Gender and Enterprise Network is extremely pleased with such a successful outcome, thanks our hosts and sponsors and looks forward to similar events in the future.