Entrepreneuring gender diversity in entrepreneurship through critical theory and reflexivity

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness of conflicts between the innovation ideologies fundamental to entrepreneurial theory and the exclusivity embedded in the discipline’s research and discursive practices.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper draws upon entrepreneurship and critical theory literature to deconstruct some embedded assumptions inhibiting the participation of women as entrepreneurs.

Findings
The underrepresentation of female and minority entrepreneurs has been examined most often by researchers from the perspective of trying to discover and overcome barriers to participation, rather than seeking to understand why and how these barriers are created and sustained. The paper identifies processes contributing to the construction of obstacles inhibiting inclusivity and proposes that conscientious implementation of practices such as critical reflexivity can limit their reproduction.

Research limitations/implications
By situating critical theory and reflexivity as key practices for cultivating diversity and innovation in entrepreneurship, this paper offers a useful basis for expanding subsequent research and pedagogical practices representative of a wider variety of populations and activities.

Practical implications
Entrepreneurship is key to job creation and economic growth. Rigid conceptualizations of entrepreneurship and unexamined biases of scholars and educators limit the accessibility of research and constrain students’ entrepreneurial intentions and behaviors.

Originality/value
The paper fills a gap in the literature by exploring disciplinary practices that cultivate and sustain gender exclusivity. It provides a structured approach to understanding discrepancies between the innovation entrepreneurship idealizes and the practices that confine participation to specific populations and economic practices.

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