The power of “feminine capital”

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2015

 Catherine Elliott and Barbara Orser

From left: Catherine Elliott and Barbara Orser

Drawing on over four decades of research, Drs. Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott’s new book, Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs (Stanford University Press, 2015), offers insights into the ways that gender can influence entrepreneurial decision-making. To kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week here on campus, the Telfer School of Management and uOttawa E-Hub recently hosted a launch for the book.

“We found that gender effects are realized in many ways, in entrepreneurial decisions and assumptions, through actions and interaction,” said Orser. “We’ve also learned that women embrace a continuum of perspectives about how gender impacts the way one does business. For some women, being female has no influence on their business practice. For others, it’s all about being female. Women spoke about how they are using experience to recognize new markets, to build brands and to drive profits.”

“The book also introduces the concept of ‘entrepreneurial feminism,’” added Elliott. “We spoke with women who are infusing feminist values through their entrepreneurial activities. They see themselves as change agents, empowering others, and in particular, girls and women. Many seek women business owners to do business with. They prioritize relationships and see exchange as a means to collaborate rather than compete. By doing so, female entrepreneurs are levelling the economic playing field, one venture at a time.”

Based on research with over 20,000 entrepreneurs, the book provides a fresh perspective on the intersection between entrepreneurship and gender. “We translated research into practical advice, tips and learning aids by using the words of the women we encountered in our studies,” said Elliott.

Building on their peer-reviewed studies, the authors consolidate lessons learned to answer three questions: What is feminine capital? How is feminine capital transforming entrepreneurship? And how does entrepreneurship inform feminism?

The book should be of interest to researchers, students of entrepreneurship, management and gender studies, and all those who influence entrepreneurs, including bankers, industry and sector associations, and policymakers.

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