Challenging teaching and learning for women entrepreneurs in the EU

Christine Atkinson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

    1 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper discusses findings from a 2 year, 3 country European (Erasmus Multilateral Cooperation) project. The Women‟s Entrepreneurship in the European Union (WEEU) Consortium partners aimed to collaborate on the design and development of innovative approaches to teaching, learning and associated support for women entrepreneurs in the EU.

    Prior Work
    Four issues underpinned the forming of the WEEU Consortium and the project on women‟s entrepreneurship education. Firstly, the persistent global gender gap in entrepreneurship where men are almost twice as likely as women to start a new business in high-income group countries (GEM Report on Women and Entrepreneurship, 2006). Secondly, the positive correlation between women‟s educational attainment level and their business survival rates (GEM Report on Women and Entrepreneurship, 2006). Thirdly, the increasing number of entrepreneurship courses worldwide (GEM Wales 2006). Fourthly,
    the lack of discussion of the „appropriateness and effectiveness of the pedagogies that underpin these offerings‟ (Hartshorn and Hannon, 2005).

    Specific aspects of inquiry included the impact of key topics within women owned businesses and the identification of effective teaching and learning in these areas: business planning; creativity and innovation; social entrepreneurship; reconciliation of professional and private life; sustainability and sustainable development.

    The project was underpinned by an action research framework with increasingly accurately focused spirals of planning, action, observation and reflective phases. A series of parallel focus groups and individual interviews were held involving over 200 aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs in the 3 countries. The findings were used in the development of shared teaching approaches and learning materials and were then piloted at parallel one week Women‟s Entrepreneurship Summer Schools in September 2009. Participants evaluated each Summer School at the end of the final day and a further review was
    undertaken 6 months later.

    Common themes emerged supporting previous work that recognises a universal, shared experience among women. However, the project also reinforces previous research that emphasises the heterogeneity among women entrepreneurs. This resulted in a flexible range of teaching and learning approaches and materials being developed within the project and piloted with very positive results.

    The project and paper contribute to the further development of women‟s entrepreneurship education with new teaching and learning approaches and materials. Further, they demonstrate the value of a development team involving Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Chambers of Commerce and Women Business Owners from Eastern and Western Europe reflecting the similarities but also the diversity within the European Union.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication33rd Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship Conference Proceedings
    Subtitle of host publicationLooking to the Future: Economic and Social Regeneraton Through Entrepreneurial Activity
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2010
    Event 33rd Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference - London
    Duration: 2 Nov 20104 Nov 2010


    Conference 33rd Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference


    • women’s entrepreneurship
    • teaching and learning
    • gender and entrepreneurship


    Dive into the research topics of 'Challenging teaching and learning for women entrepreneurs in the EU'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this