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

Jones, Sally and Warhuus, J (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). pp. 182-200. ISSN 1462-6004

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Abstract

Purpose - This paper investigates the social construction of gendered subjects in entrepreneurship education (EEd), through the analysis of course descriptions. For this purpose, the analytical constructs of the Fictive Student and the Fictive Entrepreneur are developed. Approach - Through analysis of 86 course descriptions from 81 universities in 21 countries, this study examines the degree to which course descriptions use gendered language, how such language constructs gendered subjects, and the resultant implications. Findings - This paper finds 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. Practical implications - Universities and educators have not taken into account recent research about the real and possible negative consequences of positioning entrepreneurship in a stereotypical, masculinized fashion. This may offer an inexpensive opportunity to improve recruitment and description accuracy. Originality/value - The paper’s contribution is fourfold. First, it contributes to debates on the gendering of entrepreneurship by extending these into EEd. Second, it extends Sarasvathy’s (2004) concern with barriers to, rather than incentives for, entrepreneurship to include EEd. Third, it contributes to the emerging literature on entrepreneurship as practice, by highlighting the masculization of EEd, as it gets closer to practice and the role of language in this. Finally, it highlights the gendered implications of English medium courses.

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