Women’s entrepreneurship—from equal opportunities to potential resources

Helene Ahl from Encell has been an invited speaker in the seminar series "Gendered Inclusion in Contemporary Organisations," organised by a cohort of British universities.
Ahl presented her new research on how women’s entrepreneurship is referenced in government agency policy documents and how this has changed over time.

Helene Ahl was invited to the University of Kent, where she held the presentation "How Postfeminist Entrepreneurship Policy Reproduces Women’s Subordination: Employing Nancy Fraser’s Concepts of Recognition and Redistribution in a Longitudinal Analysis of Swedish Policy for Women’s Entrepreneurship."

Helene Ahl is Professor of Business Administration at the School of Education and Communication at Jönköping University, where she is research leader for the Lifelong Learning research environment; she is also active in Encell. Her research focuses on learning and gender, and through the Embla research group, she has a collaboration with Karin Berglund from Stockholm University, Katarina Pettersson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Malin Tillmar from Linnaeus University.

Together, the four have reviewed and analysed policy documents that in some way concern entrepreneurship, to see the underlying reasoning regarding inequality between the genders and how and why women’s entrepreneurship should be promoted. Their article, “Women's Entrepreneurship, Neoliberalism and Economic Justice in the Postfeminist Era: A Discourse Analysis of Policy Change in Sweden,” has been accepted for publication in the journal Gender, Work & Organization.

The researchers have analysed policy documents using a methodology that they developed based on Nancy Fraser’s theory of recognition and redistribution.

In their in-depth analysis of four hefty Swedish national policy documents written between 1993 and 2015, they saw signs of precisely the type of change that Nancy Fraser speaks about. The document from 1993 contained both recognition and redistribution in the reasoning. Inequality in women’s and men’s entrepreneurship, as well as differences between different parts of the country, should be balanced out to make society more democratic. In 2015, redistribution was no longer included, and the recognition did not consist in highlighting existing differences, but rather in recognizing the potential that women’s entrepreneurship offered for economic growth.

Content updated 2018-12-18