Sketching the profile of female entrepreneurs: a qualitative exploration using an art-based, feminist methodology
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Although female entrepreneurship, in Canada, is on the rise, only 16% of Canadian businesses have a woman leader (Grekou, Li & Liu, 2018). Evidence suggests that females, when compared to males, have distinct barriers, motivations and goals concerning entrepreneurship (Mattis, 2004). However, there is also a lack of research allowing experiences of female entrepreneurs to be viewed independently from those of males. Our goal was to further an understanding of female business owners using a feminist approach — gaining knowledge about female entrepreneurs that is both personal and holistic. To do so, a two-staged qualitative method was used. First, an individual interview with three participants occurred, creating a trusting relationship between researcher and participant. These were analyzed using an Interpretive Phenomenological approach (Pietkiewicz & Smith, 2014). Second, an art-based, exploratory approach was utilized (Williams & Smythe, 2018), wherein participants created imaginative artbased projects to gain greater insight into their own involvements, which offered a direct, unmediated view of their experience. This process occurred over a period of three months (four meetings on average), wherein participants discussed their journey in person or email. All women were able to produce works that exuded their true experiences, they reported. Participants exhibited a strong desire for innovation and freedom in their ventures and noted different connotations of ‘success’ than the profile of a stereotypical entrepreneur offers. While the Interpretive Phenomenological approach gave us an understanding of these women's lives, it was their art-based exploration that enabled them to convey their experiences and emotions at a deeper level.