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Women’s entrepreneurship event bridges gap between academia and business

By Greg Duck Posted: June 13, 2019 9:55 a.m.

(l to r) Dr. Gina Grandy Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business with Dr. Nicola Patterson, Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra, and Dr. Karen Hughes at this past Monday’s Trends in Women’s Entrepreneurship: Bridging Research and Practice event.
(l to r) Dr. Gina Grandy Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business with Dr. Nicola Patterson, Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra, and Dr. Karen Hughes at this past Monday’s Trends in Women’s Entrepreneurship: Bridging Research and Practice event. Photos: U of R Photography

A capacity crowd gathered at College Avenue Campus on Monday to learn from some of the world’s change makers in women’s entrepreneurship.

Three speakers, from as close as Edmonton and as far as England, delivered presentations related to their research and expertise at the Trends in Women’s Entrepreneurship: Bridging Research and Practice event, hosted by the Hill and Levene Schools of Business. The event was another step in the Faculty’s efforts to enhance program and resource offerings related to women’s entrepreneurship.

“Advancing women’s entrepreneurship is a priority for our province and our country,” said Dr. Gina Grandy, Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business. “This forum brought entrepreneurs, government and community leaders, and students and faculty together to learn from leading academics and one another.”

Supported by the RBC Woman Executive in Residence Program, the all-day forum was structured to ensure mutual learning, with plenty of time for networking and access to speakers. Entrepreneurship events are not uncommon, but this forum was unique as it provided exposure to leading research into women’s entrepreneurship.

“Evidence based decision making, informed by current research, makes for more relevant policy and stronger outcomes,” said Grandy. “Having this group of speakers share their research with this audience can positively shape the way women’s entrepreneurship in our province will look moving forward.”

Women-owned businesses in the province are thriving, with more than 30,000 women entrepreneurs at the helm. Despite this success, research shows that women entrepreneurs still face many barriers and biases. Having speakers bring light to these challenges and possible solutions are important steps for creating change and encouraging more women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

“We were so delighted at the response to the event. And to see so many decision makers from the community — fully engaged and interested in the topics covered — was a tremendous display of support for women’s entrepreneurship in the province,” said Grandy.

Speaker presentations for the day included:

Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra – Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College (Boston, MA)
How Gender Biases Drive Venture Capital Decision-Making: Exploring the Gender Funding Gap

An entrepreneur and leading researcher in venture capital, Balachandra founded the United States’ first women’s specific venture capital network, and in 2014 co-authored the Diana Report – the 1st comprehensive analysis of venture capital investments in women entrepreneurs since 1999. Academic highlights include a fellowship with Harvard Law School, designing and teaching a course in improvisation and leadership at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and stints with Northeastern University and Boston College.

Dr. Nicola Patterson – Senior Lecturer in Leader Development and Organisation Futures at Newcastle University (North East England)
Developing a Collaborative Space to Challenge Gendered Structural Issues in Entrepreneurship in the North East of England

Patterson is the co-founder of Genera and Entrepreneurship North East, a collaborative space for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to progress issues of gender and social difference in entrepreneurship in the North East of England. She is also part of the global research team for the Women’s Economic Imperative, a collaborative initiative to promote women’s economic empowerment.

Dr. Karen Hughes – Professor in Strategic Management and Organization and Sociology at University of Alberta (Edmonton)
Building Gender-Aware Ecosystems for Growth: Exploring Women’s Experiences of Peer Support, Mentoring, and Entrepreneurial Learning

The author of the biennial Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Canada Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship, Hughes is also a member of the GEM Canada team. She has also authored several books related to women's entrepreneurship and works closely with the Alberta Women's Entrepreneurs.

06-13-2.jpg 06-13-3.jpg 06-13-4.jpg
Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra
presents on gender biases
in venture capital
The Honourable Tina Beaudry-
Mellor Minister of Advanced
Education, Status of Women,
and Innovation Saskatchewan
with Pamela Klein incoming
U of R Chancellor
Event attendees had plenty
of time to network and learn
from one another


Valerie Sluth was named the RBC Women Executive in Residence this past January with the role of promoting women’s entrepreneurship within the Hill and Levene Schools of Business.