College of Management Professor Wins Grant to Examine Resources for Women Entrepreneurs in Boston
Assistant Professor of Management Banu Özkazanç-Pan and two fellow researchers have won a $47,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study women entrepreneurs in the Boston area and organizations that support entrepreneurs.
Between January and June, Özkazanç-Pan and her fellow researchers will be interviewing at least 25 women, 25 men, and 13 representatives from supporting organizations, with the goal of learning how to better connect support organizations with women entrepreneurs.
In November, Özkazanç-Pan, along with a separate research team, released study findings on women entrepreneurs in the St. Louis, Missouri area. They chose St. Louis because it has a growing startup community and two of Özkazanç-Pan’s colleagues had previously done research there.
“Basically what we found was these support organizations – groups that provide resources and opportunities – were not as effective at connecting with women entrepreneurs,” Özkazanç-Pan said.
Özkazanç-Pan and her team discovered that one barrier is that many women tend to think of themselves as small business owners, as opposed to entrepreneurs. When they learn about an invitation for entrepreneurs, they don’t necessarily think it applies to them.
The researchers also found that support organizations tend to only communicate about events and opportunities with people already in their network. Özkazanç-Pan and her team encouraged support organizations to diversify their outreach methods.
They also found that although support organizations invite women and minorities to take part in diversity panels, they don’t necessarily invite them to appear on panels where diversity isn’t the theme.
Özkazanç-Pan expects to find some similarities and some differences in Boston. They will also interview male entrepreneurs during this study.
“We want to find out what they’re doing that they’re not facing the same challenges as women,” Özkazanç-Pan said.
The team hopes to work with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Women's Advancement and inform policies based upon their findings.
“I’ve had a lot of informal conversations with women and there’s this sense that there’s a lot of women entrepreneurs who are connected with each other. That could be powerful once that network grows out,” Özkazanç-Pan said.