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Women in Social Enterprises

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Women as Social Entrepreneurs

Participation and representation in ‘start ups’ as epistemological sites: a feminist space?

Recognising gender as an axis of power imbalance often generates leadership niches for women, where they no longer take subsidiary roles in male-dominated organisations but rather lead mixed teams or form single-sex groups. This is increasingly reported across British social enterprises.

Yet, what remains empirically unsubstantiated is how and why women are specifically attracted to this sector, as well as the ways in which they manage to innovate around extant gendered discourses, and produce and sustain the human capital career creativities through which social enterprises manifest.

This exploratory case study of Cambridge-based women social entrepreneurs aims to: (i) gather women’s perceptions of what it means to creatively work in social start-ups; (ii) identify the crucial issues concerning gendered power relations among ‘start-uppers’; (iii) theorise how women experience gender politics while working in social ventures. Furthermore, our methodological aims include: (iv) developing a new form of scholarship and method of analysis of the embodied performativity of women as social actors, as they learn to fly (and re-define) the language of men in order to speak; (v) advancing a theoretical framework towards the development of a larger study of women as innovative leaders, funded through a national proposal to an external body.

Principal Investigators:

Professor Pam Burnard (Faculty of Education)
Dr Lilia Giugni (Judge Business School)


University of Cambridge Arts and Humanities Research Fund