IWD and engagement

Last week the exit motivations team headed off to Cranfield University’s International Women’s Day event at Milton Keynes Hub organised by Thelma Ekiyor and Claire Barnwell Spencer among others. The session was spent discussing, celebrating and acknowledging some of the great developments in business on a path of equity and equality, joined from people around the world for a global round table.

We have, in this blog, in the past looked at Justo’s paper of failure and voluntary exit, Rehamn’s gender and work life balance of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan and Marlow and Swail’s re-evaluation business exit from a gendered perspective. These are just a few papers in this, and Exit Motivation’s specialist subject area.

What struck me during this particular discussion were the following:

  • The literature is quite minimal anyway about exits from entrepreneurs generally, let alone from a female perspective. This stems from a lack of literature on understanding motivations of entry for female entrepreneurs, or, more importantly, the prevention of female start-ups with some pretty shocking stats around investment into females through growth periods, both in the UK and globally.
  • So if we don’t understand entry, or lack or it, it is hard to understand the motivation for growth and scale, let alone exit.
  • Academia still really struggles to engage, on a quantitative basis, to understand these areas in great depth. (contextualised, the SLR for my current doctorate throws up just 2 journals that specifically address the gender and exit issue, just 2).
  • Global understanding of different cultures needs to be better for learning and development – this isn’t gender specific, we can all learn from each other.
  • Lastly we need to ensure IWD continues to engage both genders to carry on promoting and educating. There is great engagement through Corporate, I hypothesise that this diminishes, rapidly, when you move through mid markets, SME’s and sole traders. Part of this is time, rather than desire, part of this is access and education. We can all help this.

Research has progressed, as has the working world. Dorothy Moore’s paper from 1990 presented an examination of present research on the female entrepreneur – suggested research strategies for the 1990’s might appear on the face of it rather dated. 33 years ago it was published (I feel so old). But actually, have we, through our research, discovered much more globally or in collaboration with different cultures? Perhaps not, and certainly not in terms of exit. Research, especially in narrow fields tends to be quite specific. Mostly as scholars want to be able to defend something nice, tidy and niche. Global comparators are extremely rare, especially in qualitative research (which in itself is in the minority). As academics we have more to do for global and cultural alignment and understanding so that research is relevant in an ever more globalised, and equitable, global workplace.

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