Purpose – Despite recognition of the value of networking, there has been little research into the networks of female entrepreneurial practitioners, particularly in the science, engineering and technology (SET) sectors, viewed traditionally as male‐dominated. This paper aims to provide greater insights into the dynamics and quality of female entrepreneurial networks. Design/methodology/approach – Insights were derived through a qualitative, in‐depth, interview‐based study of 18 female entrepreneurs operating SET‐based ventures in Northern Ireland. The use of Nvivo as the data analysis tool imposed a discipline and structure which facilitated the extraction of core insights. Findings – Aspects investigated include network type and composition; nature and frequency of engagement; and changes in network composition and networking activities through the business lifecycle. The results focus on implications of the findings for issues of quality in networks and their impact on the value of female networks. Practical implications – An understanding of these issues offers opportunities to shape government interventions to assist female entrepreneurs embarking on a venturing pathway in SET‐based ventures, or those already operating in business, to be more effective in building, utilising and enhancing the quality of their networking activities. Originality/value – In exploring networking and issues of quality for female entrepreneurs operating in SET‐based sectors, traditionally viewed as male‐dominated, the paper considers an under‐researched area of the female entrepreneurship literature.
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 27, 2011
Keywords: Female entrepreneurship; Networks and networking; Network quality; Gender; Northern Ireland; Entrepreneurialism; Social networks
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