An unusual job for a woman? Female entrepreneurs in scientific, engineering and

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Offline Md. Fouad Hossain Sarker

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Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand more about the conditions which foster certain
women’s resilience in science engineering and technology (SET) entrepreneurship. The research
responds to the so-called “leaky pipeline”, which sees progressively smaller numbers of women
participating in SET at each developmental stage from training to employment, and asks why some
women establish and grow their businesses while others are discouraged.

Design/methodology/approach – In all, 15 female SET entrepreneurs, with businesses that
had progressed beyond the initial start-up phase were selected from national databases. Data
were collected from semi-structured interviews and documentary records over a six-month period
and analysed using both manual and software-based thematic review. Responses were mapped
to bring narratives to the forefront, and were compared using relevant literature on emerging
gender topics.

Findings – Findings suggest that female SET entrepreneurs undertake a continual process of
adjustment to cope with the perceptual tendencies of visibility, contrast and assimilation (Kanter,
1993). They make frequent allowances and/or arrangements for their “unusual” status within the
industry. In overcoming limited opportunities for women in traditional SET roles, participants
perceived assimilation in terms of becoming an “honorary man”, occasionally in attitude, but primarily
via hard-earned proof of personal expertise.

Originality/value – This research considers an under-researched group, dealing both with female
entrepreneurship generally and women’s involvement in the SET sector specifically, and demonstrates
the complexity of responses to gendered business environments. Increased awareness of the issues
facing women in SET is vital in beginning to address the leaky pipeline.
Keywords Motivation, Business development, Female entrepreneurs, Leaky pipeline

For details:
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/IJEBR-08-2011-0095
Md. Fouad Hossain Sarker
Assistant Professor and Head
Department of Development Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Daffodil International University
Dhaka-1207