Call for Chapter Contributions: Gender, Diversity and Innovation: Concepts, policies and practice




Call for Chapter Contributions
Gender, Diversity and Innovation: Concepts, policies and practice
Editors: Tim Vorley, Helen Lawton Smith, Beldina Owalla


Entrepreneurship and innovation are pervasive concepts in academic and policy discourses.  Growing global recognition of innovation’s role in achieving economic revival and sustained development has also led to the proliferation of policies and initiatives aimed at increasing the level of innovation activity (Pettersson and Lindberg 2013).  However, the traditional view of innovation prioritized technological and product innovations over social, process, service or business model innovations (Andersson et al., 2012).  This resulted in policies mainly targeted at technological product development and focused on primarily male-dominated sectors like manufacturing and technology industries (Lindberg et al. 2015).

More recently, this attention has shifted to innovation activities taking place in service industries, education sector, health sector, and other female dominated sectors (Alsos et al. 2013).  However, despite this broadened focus, many innovation policies and initiatives still adopt a gender neutral perspective that assumes equality in the outcomes of science and technology (Lee and Pollitzer 2016).  Similarly, innovation research has been characterized by a gender blindness that conceals the gendered nature of the innovation processes (Pecis 2016).  By focusing on innovation products, processes and systems, the role of the innovator has been overlooked (Alsos et al. 2013).  Therefore, while the positive impact of gender diversity on creativity and innovation is well-evidenced (Bouncken 2004; Dai et al. 2019; Díaz-García et al. 2013; Nathan 2014), the role of gender in innovation research remains under-explored.

Studies show that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, which are important for innovation and technological development are highly gender-skewed all along the ‘pipeline’ (Kuschel et al. 2020).  While several studies have been carried out in this area, we are still unclear on how to develop effective interventions to address these inequalities (Gorbacheva et al. 2019).  In the field of entrepreneurship, while the gendered entrepreneurship phenomenon is more widely acknowledged (Jennings and Brush, 2013), women’s entrepreneurship policies still tend to adopt neo-liberal perspectives that subordinate women to the economic agenda and focus on their inadequacies or extraordinariness (Ahl and Nelson 2015; Coleman et al. 2019).  The heterogeneity of women entrepreneurs as a group in terms of their motivations, perceptions of opportunities, types of ventures, and challenges faced is also often ignored (Kelley et al., 2017).

A similar challenge is faced by innovation policies and initiatives aimed at fostering other minority groups’ participation in innovation activities.  For example, studies highlight the need to recognize the multi-diversity of ethnic minority businesses and the myriad of economic/social relationships within which they are embedded (Carter et al., 2015; Ram and Jones, 2008).  The intersectionality of social categories such as age, race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, education, social status etc., have also been shown to create additional barriers to minority groups’ participation in entrepreneurship and innovation activities (Cooney, 2008; Marlow and Martinez Dy, 2018).  The role geographic contexts play in influencing the distribution of capital, access to networks, and recognition/creations of innovation opportunities also needs to be further explored (Blake and Hanson, 2005).

Achieving inclusive innovation, i.e. a view of innovation that embraces both the diversity of the actors and the activities involved, therefore calls for a holistic understanding of the heterogeneity of innovators involved, as well as the broader structural factors (e.g. societal expectations, cultural norms, regulations, politics, place, religion, etc.) that influence their activities within the ecosystem (Brush et al. 2019; Henry et al. 2017).  Likewise, policies and initiatives need to move beyond fixing the individual, e.g. though training, and to focus on addressing wider systemic barriers to equality (Foss et al. 2019; Orser et al. 2012).


The purpose of this book is to contribute to our understanding of the complex and multi-level factors influencing women entrepreneurs and other minority groups’ involvement in innovation activities.  The main theme focuses on recognizing the diversity of the individual actors involved in innovation.  Specifically, it emphasizes the heterogeneity of women entrepreneurs and other minority groups based on social categories such as age, race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, education, social status etc., and explores how the intersection of these categories influence their innovation activities.  It also examines the role of the broader contextual and institutional factors within the innovation ecosystem in enabling or impeding women entrepreneurs’ and other minority groups’ innovation activities.  The book aims to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how policies and interventions could effectively support under-represented groups’ innovation activities.  It develops themes picked up in the GWEP-OECD Report, and looks to explore different dimensions of gender, diversity and inclusive innovation.  The book is targeted towards academics, research students, practitioners and policy makers working in the areas of gender, diversity, entrepreneurship, management and innovation.

Recommended topics
We are open to conceptual and empirical contributions from a variety of disciplines.  Chapter contributions that enhance our understanding of women entrepreneurs and other minority groups’ innovation activities in different geographical contexts are also welcome.  Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Section 1: Concept of innovation – i) analysing underlying assumptions of the innovation concept and how to problematize them, ii) critically analysing different types of innovation e.g. public sector innovation, commercial innovation, social innovation, open innovation, etc.
  • Section 2: Innovation in different sectors – i) analysing innovation activities in different sectors e.g. services sector, food sector, technology sector, HEIs etc., ii) analysing gendered aspects of the innovation process or the gendering processes of innovation, iii) adopting intersectional perspectives to analysing innovation activities etc.
  • Section 3: Innovation policies & initiatives – i) evaluating different support initiatives, highlighting best practices etc., ii) critically analysing discourses of innovation policies, iii) developing conceptual frameworks for inclusive innovation policies.
  • Section 4: Innovation ecosystems – i) analysing how formal/informal institutional structures impact innovation activities, ii) examining the influence of context e.g. by analysing innovation activities in different regions of the world, iii) exploring regional variations in the innovation process, iv) analysing innovation activities within innovation clusters, tech-cities etc.

Important Dates

  • Submission of chapter proposals (500 – 1000 words approx.) outlining the aim/main rationale, research questions, methodology and expected results by 1st July 2020
  • Notification of accepted book chapter proposal by 10th July 2020
  • First draft of chapter (5000 – 6000 words approx.) due by 14th October 2020
  • Chapter authors receive reviews with feedback by 1st December 2020
  • Final revised chapter for publication due by 15th February 2021
  • Anticipated publication schedule is May/June 2021 


Please send book chapter proposals by 1st July 2020 to:  In case you need any further information or want to discuss a potential contribution to the book, please feel free to contact any of the editors below


Prof Tim Vorley: The University of Sheffield, Management School – Email:
Prof Helen Lawton-Smith: Birkbeck, University of London, – Email:
Dr Beldina Owalla: The University of Sheffield, Management School – Email:



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