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Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Changing Face of Women Entrepreneurship

Study from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, identifies new opportunities for women entrepreneurs

United Kingdom, 18 November 2014 – A new study claims that women entrepreneurship within ‘pink collar’ work, a term used to typify female dominated industries such as PR, retail and fashion, has enabled women to break the glass ceiling. This research published by Emerald, a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society, furthers on-going discussions about gender in the workplace and may reflect a growing acceptance of women as business leaders.

Further assessment in the study,‘Images, forms and presence outside and beyond the pink ghetto’, explores the idea that entrepreneurship within pink collar work may have enabled women to get out of the pink ghetto, defined as primarily low paid, female dominated jobs, whilst fulfilling ‘accepted’ gender roles. 

The study, ‘Images, forms and presence outside and beyond the pink ghetto’, used gender tracking to analyze images of entrepreneurship using photo montage techniques to identify common stereotypes and themes. While the results indicated men are limited to three broad stereotypes including the conformist, non conformist and the criminal, women have a myriad of associations, from the more masculine ‘business woman’ to the ‘poor-girl-made-good’. Only a decade ago, the variety or frequency of imagery was much lower.  

Dr Robert Smith, Author of the study, Reader in Entrepreneurship at Aberdeen Business School and Board member of The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE), said: “According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s latest statistics; an estimated 126 million women started or ran new businesses in 67 economies around the world. This astounding figure alone proves that the influence of women in business should not be overlooked.

“Gendered images of female entrepreneurs surround us in their complexity, from JK Rowling through to Vivienne Westwood, and women entrepreneurs now have an advantage over their male counterparts. They are potentially liberated by an ability to construct their own entrepreneurial identities be seen for their individual characteristics and transcend boundaries, even if their business is regarded as pink collar work.”

Gender in Management: An International Journal is included in Emerald’s HR, Learning and Organization Studies collection. Information about the collection can be found by visiting

To read the study, which is available for free access until 30 November visit

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About Emerald Publishing:
Nurturing fresh thinking that makes an impact

Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management. Today, we continue to nurture fresh thinking in applied fields where we feel we can make a real difference, now also including health and social care, education and engineering. We publish over 300 journals, more than 2,500 books and over 1,500 case studies, via our dedicated research platform


Natasha Hartley
Content Communications Executive
Emerald Publishing Limited
Phone: +44 (0) 1274 785046