Female Founders

Research overview: objectives, framework, data


I was born in the entrepreneurial scene. It was no surprise that, after graduating, I would start working for accelerator programs aimed to support entrepreneurs.

Through my professional experience, out of the 200+ start-ups I met, only 10% of those had a female founder. Quickly, I discovered a simple fact: women are underrepresented in the start-up industry.

Research objectives

In January 2018, I started my research on female entrepreneurship. Academic studies on this topic remains scarce in Europe, particularly in France. That is why I decided to conduct an explorative study gathered around three main objectives:

  • To establish a complete overview of the European entrepreneurial landscape for women
  • To understand the role of start-up accelerators in fighting gender discriminations
  • To analyse the perception of entrepreneurship amongst female founders

Research framework

My research focuses on two countries of the European Union: France and The Netherlands. Both have acquired a reputation as innovation hubs, filled with opportunities for start-up founders. In The Netherlands, I looked at the city of Amsterdam, which was awarded the title of European Capital of Innovation in 2016 by the European Commission. In France, I have decided to research Nantes, 36th on Nestpick’s Startup Cities Index 2017, because of the city’s quick expansion and continuing efforts towards entrepreneurship and innovation.

Data sample

To conduct my research, I organised 20 qualitative interviews. I have discussed with the CEOs and program directors of Amsterdam and Nantes’ biggest accelerator programs and innovation hubs: Rockstart, Startupbootcamp, La Cantine, Startup Palace… Additionally, I met 8 female founders who are building and growing their start-ups in Nantes or Amsterdam. Each interview lasted around 45 minutes, which allowed me to gather a large amount of data.

Main results

From January to July 2018, I have discovered fascinating facts about female entrepreneurship. Here are the main results of my research:

– In spite of the ever-growing list of achievements for women’s empowerment in Europe, the entrepreneurial landscape remains more advantageous for men. Read the full article here.

– To really make a change, directors and management of start-up accelerators must take proactive measures and implement strategies to support female founders. Read the full article here.

– Women internalise many stereotypes that can be detrimental to their entrepreneurial activities. To improve the situation, public institutions must focus on education and family policies. Read the full article here.

This thesis has sparked a strong desire to further my research on female entrepreneurship. If you’d like to share insights or resources, feel free to comment below.

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