Research on the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Gender Divide

In innovative environments one can often find a male dominance when it comes to number of participants, both in incubators, start-ups, investors, counsellors and financing. Why is it like this, and what can be done to change it? The EU financed project GENRE will in four different countries work with questioning the reasons for this practice, and hopefully inspire to change where it is needed. To start out they will take a look at what is categorized as one of the most interesting areas for innovation where you also find the highest percentage of men; technology.

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Researchers in the GENRE-project coming together from Nord University, Dublin City University, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee and Karlstad University.
Innovation research is often tied up with so-called “boy toys”, like cars, motors, etc.,” says Gry Agnete Alsos, Profes¬sor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Nord University Business School. “This hinders us to understand other types of innovations, for instance those more relevant for female consumers.” Alsos is the leader of the Norwegian part of the research project and believes that the challenges connected to the field are affixed in the field itself. 

The research team will carry out interviews with both male and female entrepreneurs, investors and others connected to the field. They want to see if there is a general trend regarding gender and entrepreneurship. The goal is to bring more attention to whether or not the innovative environment is gender equal, with a focus on innovative technology. Throughout the three-year period the project is on-going, there will be workshops and courses to make incubators and entrepreneurs more conscious on the biases they meet and use in a normal day.

The project started with Professor Maura Mc Adam from Dublin City University. The research program is a cooperation between professors of four countries, and the interviews and studies will be carried out in all four. The four chosen countries, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Israel, have different societies and levels of gender equality. “We wish to challenge the general thought on how equal the countries actually are, and hopefully some of the results can be used to better the situation if needed,” says Gry Alsos.

GENRE responds to the GENDER NET Plus call and specifically Sustainable Development Goal 9 (Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation, Topic 2.2y (Gender in Entrepreneurship and in the Innovation System). Alsos says that it’s always exciting with an EU funded project that gives one the chance to look at the situation in other countries. “Working with other nationalities in a project like this will help me see Norway in a different light,” she says.

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The researchers at Nord who are working with gender issues in an entrepreneurial context. From the right: Marta G. Lindvert, Gry Agnete Alsos, Marianne Arntzen-Nordqvist.


GENRE - Overcoming the Entrepreneurial
Ecosystem Gender Divide:
A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Project period: 2019-2022

The project investigates the lived
experience of female tech entrepreneurs within incubation and investing ecosystems in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Israel. We analyze how women and men are influenced by, and in turn, influence entrepreneurial ecosystems differently, by studying women’s and men’s technology entrepreneurship
and how this relates to accepted femininity and masculinity norms in technology incubators and
entrepreneurial finance.

Gry Agnete Alsos (project leader), Marta Lindvert, Marianne
Arntzen-Nordqvist, Elisabet Ljunggren

Dublin City University, Kinneret College on the Sea of
Galilee, Karlstad University

EU H2020 Gender Net, Research Council of Norway