“This class is not for you”: An investigation of gendered subject construction in entrepreneurship course descriptions

Dr

Sally Jones

(She/Her)

Reader

Manchester Metropolitan University

Sally is a reader in entrepreneurship and gender at Manchester Met. She received her PhD in education and professional training from Leeds Metropolitan, and has both a MSc in multimedia and education and a PGCE (Post-Compulsory Education and Training) from the University of Huddersfield
British

Overview

This research considers the exclusionary nature of gendered language within entrepreneurship training and education in universities.

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Key Findings

    How to apply research

    • Raise awareness of the exclusionary power of gendered language. This should be measured To evaluate whether changing the gendered language used in promotional materials impacts on applications for entrepreneurship courses/training.
    • Reviewing how entrepreneurship/self-employment may be gendered (and masculinised) in promotional and training materials. This should be analysed prior to making change. Then an evaluation needs to be made whether changing the gendered language used in promotional materials impacts on applications for entrepreneurship courses/training.
    • Developing gender sensitive training/education for the whole organisation.

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    About this research

      This Journal Article was part of a collaborative effort

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

      Recommended for

      About this research

        This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

        This paper was co-authored

        Recommended for

        What findings means

        This research investigates how entrepreneurship is presented as a potentially gendered activity, through analysing university entrepreneurship education course descriptions.

        It considers the exclusionary nature of gendered language and how this may present entrepreneurship as a choice for particular types of students who respond positively to masculinised language.

        We analysed of 86 course descriptions from 81 universities in 21 countries, and examined the degree to which course descriptions use gendered language, how such language constructs gendered subjects, and the resultant implications.

        We found that course descriptions are predominantly, but not exclusively, masculine in their language. More importantly, the distribution of feminine and masculine language is uneven across course descriptions. Context variables such as regional or national culture differences do not explain this distribution. Instead, the phenomenon is explained by course content/type; whereby practice-based entrepreneurship courses are highly masculine, compared to traditional academic courses, where students learn about entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon.We conclude that universities and educators have not taken into account recent research about the real and possible negative consequences of positioning entrepreneurship in a stereotypical, masculinised fashion through gendered language.

        We argue that critically reviewing the language used offers an inexpensive opportunity to improve recruitment of more diverse cohorts and description accuracy.

        Methodology

        A mixed method approach. Manifest and latent content analysis informed by a codebook, which synthesised existing lexicons of gendered language.

        University course descriptions have limitations as a dataset, being cumbersome to revise, with long approval processes.

        We only analysed course descriptions written in English derived mainly from the Global North

        Glossary

        ConceptDefinition
        Fictive Student and the Fictive EntrepreneurThe ideal student for the course and the ideal entrepreneur suggested in the course descriptions

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        Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

        Jones, S. and Warhuus, J.P. (2018) “This class is not for you”: An investigation of gendered subject construction in entrepreneurship course descriptions. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 25(2): 182-200