Diversity in Entrepreneurship

A quarter of Denmark's entrepreneurs are women, while the remainder are men, with over 90% of venture capital flowing to male entrepreneurs. Supported by the Tietgen Foundation, we're delving into a three-year research project to investigate the onset of this skewness in gender diversity within entrepreneurship, its causes, and potential solutions.

On this page, you can discover more about our research project, get acquainted with the lead researcher, and the multitude of partners contributing to the project.

Skift til Dansk

 

Q&A: Are entrepreneurship dreams not for girls?

Ph.D. candidate Nanna-Katrine Lange leads the research project 'Diversity in Entrepreneurship', which is undertaken in partnership with the Department of Sociology at the University of Copenhagen and supported by the Tietgen Foundation.

She is researching when the imbalance in entrepreneurship arises, why it occurs, and what can be done about it.

You can listen to her elaborate on these topics in the video here.

Christian Vintergaard, CEO of the Foundation for Entrepreneurship, elaborates on the reasons behind initiating the project: "The Foundation for Entrepreneurship is Denmark's leading knowledge center for entrepreneurial activities in the education system. Projects like this contribute not only to making a difference in society but also allow us to provide advice based on a solid research foundation," he states.

What exactly is entrepreneurship?

Kåre Moberg, who holds a Ph.D. in the impact of entrepreneurship on the educational system nd serves as our research director, defines entrepreneurial activities within the education system as something that equips children and young people with the abilities to create, change, and make a difference in life in general, whether as innovative employees or entrepreneurs. Moreover, it involves equipping the youth with skills such as teamwork, idea creation, independence, and similar competencies.

"Research also indicates that entrepreneurship can positively impact girls' confidence in being entrepreneurial. Hence, our project gains significance, especially when we notice an existing disparity in the field of entrepreneurship," he comments.

 

 

 

The research project utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and is executed with the support of 5,488,000 Danish kroner from the Tietgen Foundation. The project involves a comprehensive network of participants from the business community, educational institutions, and research environments, which enables us to deliver insights both to and from the network. Further down the page, you can view interviews with some of the partners involved

Additional partners:

Benjamin Wallin Sørensen fra Erhvervsstyrelsen, Vera Rocha fra CBS, Colette Henry fra Institute for small business and entrepreneurship, Regitze Flannov fra Danmarks Lærerforening, Maja Bødtcher-Hansen fra Danske Gymnasier, Jesper Nielsen fra Danske Erhvervsskoler og gymnasier, Søren Smedegaard fra Læreruddannelsens ledernetværk, Felix Weiss fra Danmarks institut for pædagogik og uddannelse (DPU), Thomas Skovgaard fra Center for Grundskoleforskning (SDU), Maria Falk Mikkelsen fra VIVE – Det nationale forsknings- og analysecenter for velfærd og Rikke Johannesen fra VIA.

 

 

 

"Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a business. It's a toolkit that enables action in a complex world. That's why it's a given that both girls and boys should be included," says Freja Brandhøj, head of entrepreneurship policy at the Confederation of Danish Industry, which is part of the partnership surrounding the research project.

Echoing Freja Brandhøj's remarks, it's recognized that companies with female leadership often yield greater profits and economic returns than those without female representation in their leadership teams. (McKinsey & Company, 2015).

It is extremely important that we focus on gender diversity in entrepreneurship from an early age. Otherwise, we lose talent and great ideas," says Sine Linderstrøm, head of SMEs and Entrepreneurship at the Confederation of Danish Industry, which is part of the partner network.

Furthermore, as Sine Linderstrøm highlights, we also know that entrepreneurship education can contribute to increasing student engagement in school. (Moberg, 2014).

“It's not the girls and women who need to change. It's the external world that needs to recognize that girls and women bring a lot to the table," says Anne Almind Vind, Director of Partnerships at the Danish Export and Investment Fund (EIFO), another partner in the network.


Christine Paludan-Müller, the grant manager at the Tietgen Foundation, states:

"The Tietgen Foundation supports entrepreneurship in areas where we see untapped potential. That is the case here. We need more diversity among entrepreneurs. It contributes to innovation and growth, and it enriches our society when we can bring more skills into play.

Through this project, we obtain new insights that can help us meet this challenge. It's an important step towards new solutions that stimulate interest in entrepreneurship among more children and young people."


Mathias W. Nielsen, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology:



"With this project, the Foundation for Entrepreneurship highlights an important and overlooked issue: the significant, persistent gender gap in entrepreneurship. To narrow this gap, we need comprehensive knowledge about when and how gender differences in entrepreneurship interest arise among Danish children and youth. That's why we at the Department of Sociology are pleased to be a part of the project."

 

 

 

Project Manager's Update:

Time flies! With summer break just around the corner, there's a lot happening at DiE. I'm currently deep into analyzing interviews and have begun writing the accompanying scientific article. This article will convey the perspectives of the interviewed teenagers on entrepreneurship, their future dreams, and the possibility of combining the two.

At the beginning of the month, we held our second project network meeting. Besides discussing findings from the 23 interviews, we delved into an analysis of what entrepreneurship students aspire to do as adults. The ambitions vary widely, from veterinarian to police officer to musician (this will be published over the summer!).

The next research phase at DiE involves a nationwide survey, which will be distributed in the fall. Additionally, we are busy with development, ongoing knowledge dissemination, and preparing for the intervention phase – which promises to be exciting as it will involve teachers and their students in the research.

In the second spring month of 2024, I am focusing in my research process on:

  • Conducting the final interviews with girls and boys from schools around the country.
  • Analyzing the qualitative data, which is continuously transcribed and systematized.
  • Delving into theories and previous studies that help explain patterns and findings from the interviews.

 

So far, a lot of intriguing trends have emerged in my conversations with young people. There appears to be more at play than just differences in belief in one's own abilities and willingness to take risks, which are likely the two most used theoretical explanations for gender differences in entrepreneurship among youth. April will be a month of deep immersion.

Currently, I am initiating the first steps in the exploratory phase, conducting individual interviews with secondary school students from various schools across the country. The objective of these interviews is to gain deeper insights into the early emergence of gender disparities in the interest towards entrepreneurship and innovation. The interviews focus on the youths' dreams and thoughts regarding their future work and how they perceive entrepreneurship both as a concept and as a possible career path. I am interviewing a total of 20 students, 10 girls and 10 boys, from 10 different schools.

By the end of this month, I should ideally have the data prepared, which will then undergo analysis and serve as the foundation for the continued efforts in the project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a teacher and would like to try out innovative materials on diversity in entrepreneurship and at the same time contribute to a significant research project, we would love to hear from you.

If you are a researcher, or from a company or organization that wishes to support this initiative and join our expanding network, we would also be very interested in hearing from you