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Gender Inclusion Activities in Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: The Case of St. Louis, MO and Boston, MA

27 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2017  

Banu Ozkazanc-Pan

University of Massachusetts Boston

Karren Knowlton

Washington University in St. Louis - Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Students

Susan Clark Muntean

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Asheville

Date Written: June 7, 2017

Abstract

Women-owned businesses have an economic impact of nearly $3 trillion in the U.S. Despite the tremendous opportunity for economic growth they present, women entrepreneurs lag behind their male counterparts in terms of number of start-ups and scaling of businesses. To understand how and why this may be taking shape, we focus on the role of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) or those organizations that act as intermediaries between the resources of a local ecosystem and entrepreneurs. All organizations that have as their proverbial mission to serve, support or partner with entrepreneurs can be categorized as ESOs. Given their role as decision makers, gatekeepers and resource providers, such organizations have the power and capacity to determine who is granted the opportunity to access and benefit from the very networks, mentors, programs and funding that increase entrepreneurs’ odds for success.

Through extensive interviews and observations over the course of 2013 to 2016, we compare and contrast the entrepreneurship ecosystems in St. Louis, MO and Boston, MA to understand differences in gender inclusion efforts at ESOs. We focus specifically on cultural cognitive frames, social normative ‘rules’, and regulatory forces as exerting institutional pressures on ESOs in the specific communities in which they are embedded. Our qualitative approach yields in-depth insights as to the mechanisms and dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the St. Louis and Boston ecosystems by way of ESOs and their practices. Findings indicate that ESOs in the emerging St. Louis ecosystem engage in inclusion efforts through institutional pressures exerted at the grassroots level by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. These efforts seem to have yielded positive results in that women’s business ownership has increased by 16% in a span of five years between 2007 and 2012, going from 28% to 44%. In comparison, women’s business ownership has stayed around 30%, in Boston between 2007 and 2012, which is a much more established ecosystem. Our findings indicate that inclusion efforts driven mainly by top-down regulatory forces may not be as effective in changing the gender gap in entrepreneurship ecosystems. We expand on these differences and outline steps for ESOs and policy makers to build inclusive ecosystems in their cities.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, gender, ecosystems, Boston, St. Louis

Suggested Citation

Ozkazanc-Pan, Banu and Knowlton, Karren and Clark Muntean, Susan, Gender Inclusion Activities in Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: The Case of St. Louis, MO and Boston, MA (June 7, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2982414

Banu Ozkazanc-Pan (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Boston ( email )

100 William T Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125
United States
617-287-7754 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.umb.edu/academics/cm/faculty_staff/faculty/banu_oezkazanc_pan

Karren Knowlton

Washington University in St. Louis - Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Students ( email )

St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Susan Clark Muntean

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Asheville ( email )

Asheville, NC 28804
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://mgmtacct.unca.edu/faces/faculty/susan-clark-muntean

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