DCU Business School lead global research consortium in an effort to tackle the entrepreneurial gender divide
A DCU-Business School led consortium aims to address the gender imbalance in the entrepreneurial sector by providing a cross-cultural comparison of women’s participation in the entrepreneurial ecosystems of Ireland, Norway, Israel and Sweden.
Comprising researchers from the four participating countries and led by Professor Maura McAdam from DCU Business School, the GENRE project provides a nuanced understanding of how gender is a decisive factor when it comes to women’s participation in entrepreneurship.
The first report of the three-year project ‘Cross-cultural Variations in Technological Ecosystems, a Gender Perspective’ highlights that:
- All four countries have well-developed technological entrepreneurship ecosystems in terms of innovation and competitiveness, ranking in the top 15% of countries measured. Ireland and Norway rank lower on technological entrepreneurship and innovativeness compared with the other two participating countries, but nonetheless invest resources and prioritise the development of technological innovation in their country’s respective strategies.
- Concerning gender equality, Norway and Sweden rank second and third respectively on the Gender Equality Index and are regarded as ‘women friendly’ states. In both countries, policies and programmes targeting women entrepreneurs exist, mainly targeted towards ‘opening-up’ strategies, including minority and migrant women.
- Ireland and Israel rank lower on the Gender Equality Index, although Ireland has recently moved up to ninth position. Ireland and Israel both have dedicated female entrepreneurship programmes, with the extent to which these programmes are targeting high-tech startups to be investigated in the next stage of the GENRE Project.
- All four countries have a centre-periphery divide which impacts the tech startup sector. In Ireland, data shows that Dublin received 70% funding in 2019 compared to regional counterparts. Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 Powering the Regions strategy report seeks to action previous targets regionally to ensure ‘optimal economic balance’ between various regions, cities, and urban centres.
- Policy makers in Ireland, Sweden and Israel recognise the importance of addressing the gender gap and increasing the number of female entrepreneurs as key concerns. Therefore, in these countries dedicated women focused programmes exist. Norwegian policies have moved towards mainstreaming gender and terminated most gender specific programmes promoting entrepreneurship.
In terms of funding, venture capital markets differ in scope and characteristics between the four countries, although policies in all four countries include efforts to expand funding for startups, which constitute also the most common policy action taken by governments.
- Venture capital landscapes in Sweden and Israel were well advanced, whereas in Ireland and Norway the venture capital markets were comparatively immature, with Ireland specifically experiencing the existence of a ‘seed funding void’.
- In Ireland, Sweden and Israel, promoting gender in investment schemes is a key element of promoting technological entrepreneurship, thus acknowledging under-representation of women in the venture capital arena.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Maura McAdam, Professor of Management and Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU’s Business School said:
“This research approach which brings together for the first time country-specific evidence from Ireland, Israel, Sweden and Norway helps to account for women’s low engagement in technology entrepreneurship. The findings underline the importance of women led ventures in their respective entrepreneurial ecosystems and also highlights best practices and key learnings which can be gleaned as a result of our four country focus”.
The project is funded by the Irish Research Council under GENDER-NET Plus, which is an EU-funded initiative, aimed at strengthening networks between researchers from other countries and to support gender equality through institutional change.