The Banbridge Leader- Maura’s project supports women

An international consortium led by Professor Maura McAdam at Dublin City University, has been awarded €994,133 to help tackle gender inequalities in Ireland’s entrepreneurial sector.

Professor Maura McAdam, who is from Banbridge, will work with researchers from Norway, Israel, Sweden and Ireland on the three-year project entitled Overcoming the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Gender Divide: A Cross-Cultural Perspective to provide an understanding of how gender is a decisive factor in women’s participation in entrepreneurship, with a focus on women in technology.

It will generate new insights and knowledge whilst providing tools to visualise and challenge underlying gender imbalances that inhibit the process of innovation in entrepreneurship. It is hoped that a cross-cultural comparison between the four partner countries will help to explain variations and similarities with regard to gender in entrepreneurship ecosystems.

The funding was awarded under Gender-Net Plus, an EU-funded initiative that aims to strengthen links between researchers in different countries, and support gender equality through institutional change.

Professor Maura McAdam, Professor of Management and Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU’s Business School said: “There is an assumption that all entrepreneurs have equal access to resources, participation and support, as well as an equal chance of a successful outcome. However, my latest research shows that women are underrepresented in successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, and that a persistent gender bias continues to exist in entrepreneurship discourse and practice. I am delighted to take the lead on this project and look forward to working with all of my international colleagues to ultimately help attain gender equality in the entrepreneurship domain in particular and also within broader society.”

DCU gets €1m funding to examine issues affecting female entrepreneurs

Dublin City University is leading a consortium that has been awarded almost €1 million in funding to help address the gender balance in Ireland’s entrepreneurial sector.

The project, entitled “Overcoming the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Gender Divide: A Cross-Cultural Perspective”, will look at how gender affects women’s participation in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and will specifically focus on technology.

The funding was awarded under GENDER-NET Plus, an EU-funded initiative that aims to strengthen links between researchers in different countries, and support gender equality through institutional change. GENDER-NET Plus is also promoting the integration of sex and gender analysis into research.

The consortium, which includes researchers from NorwayIsraelSweden and Ireland, is being headed by Maura McAdam, professor of management and director of entrepreneurship at DCU’s business school. The DCU-led research project is a three-year programme.


The project is intended to provide new insights into underlying gender imbalances in the entrepreneurship sector, while also creating tools to visualise and challenge factors affecting innovation in the sector.

“There is an assumption that all entrepreneurs have equal access to resources, participation and support, as well as an equal chance of a successful outcome. However, my latest research shows that women are underrepresented in successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, and that a persistent gender bias continues to exist in entrepreneurship discourse and practice,” Prof McAdam said.

The inclusion of researchers from different countries will allow for a cross-cultural comparison that could help to explain variations and similarities with regard to gender in entrepreneurship ecosystems and also identify trends relating to gender in technology entrepreneurship despite different political contexts and structures.

Professor Maura McAdam recognised at the 2019 Irish Women’s Awards

At the Irish Women’s Awards 2019 ceremony on the 21st of Jan, I had the honour of being recognized for my contributions and commitment to education. The inaugural Irish Women’s Awards saw over 200 guests attend on Monday 21 January, with 31 award categories to recognise and celebrate women in a variety of industries and professions. The ceremony was delivered by event specialists Creative Oceanic.

“The awards also provided a platform to thank and recognise meritorious ladies for their attributions to our society as well as for the exceptional work they carry out on a daily basis that often remain un-known or even un-appreciated.” Creative Oceanic.

This recognition in the Services to Education category is another milestone in an exciting and rewarding acadmic career.

These types of awards are important as they showcase examples of courage, passion, skill, commitment and success that feature in women and provide a platform to encourage women at all ages to achieve their goals and spread the message that women can be successful leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers, scientists and CEOs. I therefore see this award not as an achievement but as a responsibility, with my responsibility being the empowerment of women through education.”

4 weeks to the Irish Women’s Awards!

In four weeks time, I will attend the Irish Women’s Awards 2019 as a Service to Education Finalist. The black-tie event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Blanchardstown Hotel, on Monday 21st of January when meritorious female role models will gather together to celebrate their achievements.

The Irish Women’s Awards 2019 aim to acknowledge and celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs, businesswomen, professionals, civil servants, women in uniform, charity workers and many more that contribute in making Ireland a greater place to live in. The awards embody the continuing strength, grit, and determination of women, honoring those who continue to thrive, excelling them to the forefront of their industries.

A Spokesperson for the Irish Women’s Awards 2019 said: “We hope that these finalists will inspire younger women to follow their steps and we can’t wait to welcome meritorious individuals at the ceremony and celebrate the winners with them in an enjoyable event. We wish all the finalists the best of luck.”

Looking forward to a great night!

When it comes to success, entrepreneurship is a mind-set not a business model

We broaden what we traditionally associate with entrepreneurship – new venture creation aimed at maximising profit and growth – when we reframe is as a mind-set. This enables us to consider other exciting forms of entrepreneurship, such as gig entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, academic entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

The only differences between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship – taking risks within a company as an employee to solve a given problem – are the risk context and the potential consequences, both positive and negative. The thinking, the skills, the activities and the mind-set are the same.

Both indigenous and multinational companies in Ireland stand to benefit from entrepreneurial thinking. Intrapreneurs add value through innovative thinking in the same way entrepreneurs add sustainable value via new venture creation and job creation.

“With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Action is clearly crucial in the arena of entrepreneurism but mind-set also matters when it comes to creating successful entrepreneurial scenarios. An entrepreneur approaches the world with some naïveté. Being naive has its advantages. Often it involves a lack of awareness of norms and traditional ways of doing things. Entrepreneurs believe they can make a change in the world.

Sometimes this is a response to change, sometimes it is the reason for change. Entrepreneurs are change agents for themselves, their markets and in the case of the intrapreneur, their employers.

Our own worst enemy

We need to start viewing our cognitive energy as an entrepreneurial resource. Squandering it through needless worry, especially when it could be used for something much more productive is an inefficient use of resources.

One of the greatest thieves of cognitive energy is so-called Impostor Syndrome – the fear of being singled out in a team situation or being found out for the fraud that we fear we really are.

It is important to realise that some of your most talented employees might experience the Impostor Syndrome – and that it has nothing to do with their competence. It tends to show up in very high achieving people.

Permission to act

It’s important to be aware that you do not have to wait to until you get a degree, gain 10 years’ experience or reach some other self-prescribed milestone before you can be an entrepreneur – just do it. You can dream for years about what might happen. Only through action can you see actual results. Then, based on that data, you can determine what the next steps are.

As an intrapreneur, you have permission to act. So rather than waiting for the right time and right circumstances, be ready to act.

Be a risk creator as opposed to a risk taker

There is an imperative to see failure differently – ie as an opportunity to learn and gain valuable fast feedback as to what will work or not. If Ireland is to truly evolve as an innovative culture, this requires creating safer opportunities for risk.

This is particularly relevant for intrapreneurs and large multinationals. At a recent event marking an exciting collaboration between the DCU Business School, Enterprise Ireland and Google, I spoke about testing, making smart mistakes and experimenting as high yield activities for a company’s economic growth and product innovation and improvement.

Google, which was voted the second most innovative company in the world in a recent Boston Consulting Group survey, challenges its employees’ normative mental models. It enables them to approach new product development and problem solving with a fresh pair of eyes.

A company which embraces “risk activities” provides the catalyst for innovative behaviour amongst its employees through its cultivation of an entrepreneurial “can do” mind-set.

Are you FTW or WTF?

So mind-set matters when it comes to creating a vision of what is possible. A clear vision creates the “scene” for our reality. It dictates what we pay attention to, what we dismiss, how we interpret what we see and what we believe is possible.

Once you begin to adopt a practice of thinking differently about new possibilities, what you see as possible becomes probable; you become focused on solutions (the “win”).

Our mind-sets can also act as unconscious constraints, limiting what is possible. You can become focused on problems. Mind-sets matter when it comes to intrapreneurship. So, are you for the win – aiming to be your best entrepreneurial self – or are you what the frack?

Article originally published in The Irish Times

Leaders unlike me

On the 6th of November, I attended the Leaders Unlike You workshop as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

This event, hosted by Professor Kiran Trehan, University of Birmingham explored the options for working with artists to create open learning spaces and visual representation of our current situation and where we need to be. This interactive workshop, also considered how we can use creative approaches to make leadership diversity everyone’s business. This is was achieved by identity through stories, pictures, and a live performance from Birmingham-based Dragpunk.

My key takeaways from this event were:

  • The possibilities of using the arts to transform the way in which we think about leadership. The arts have an unrivalled ability to create change and transformation, challenging convention and inspiring us to see the familiar in new ways. We need to harness this ability in order to portray the everydayness of leadership in practice.
  • The importance of making space for different types of leadership. Regardless of type- the “fitting in whilst standing out“ paradox is deemed significant in the quest of legitimacy.
  • Diversity and inclusion in leadership not only matter, but  we also need to transform the way that we think about leaders and leadership and in so doing make the invisible visible by learning to work with difference.

Thinking Entrepreneurship: Mindset Matters- DCU marks colloboration with Enterprise Ireland

Taking another step forward in their continued commitment to supporting innovation in Ireland’s economy and communities, Dublin City University and Enterprise Ireland recently marked their collaboration at an event hosted by Google. The event, entitled ‘The Entrepreneurial Mindset’, took place on Monday September 17 at The Foundry and featured two panel discussions, with a keynote presentation from DCU’s Professor Maura McAdam.

There were a total of ten industry experts on stage across the afternoon. Joining the panel discussions were Sandra Whitney, Director of Global Partnerships at Google; Sandra Healy, Director of DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion; Garvan Callan, strategist, innovator and transformation advisor; Paddy Flynn, Director of Geodata Operations at Google; Sarita Johnston, HPSU Start Manager at Enterprise Ireland; Liz Fulham, CEO at Salesoptimize; Paul Mullin, Managing Director of the White Hag Brewery; Anne Marie McSorley, CEO and founder of Veri; and Liz Cunningham, Director of Tax for EMEA at Google.

Liz Cunningham opened the event with a brief outline of the Women@ programme which has been curated by Google as a means to offer mentorship to women and support their career development. The latest partnership with DCU and Enterprise Ireland will further enhance the impact of this programme. In an article with Women Mean Business earlier this year, Liz spoke about the significance of these kinds of support systems.

Professor Maura McAdam, Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU and Director of Research at DCU Centre for Family Business, turned the audience’s focus inward as she described the ways in which our mindset can shape entrepreneurial outcomes. Questions from the audience brought the conversation back to gender in entrepreneurship. One of the key factors, Maura outlined, we need to consider when cultivating an environment of equal opportunity is role models. Having people to identify with who are visible in positions of leadership, and who are relatable to our own sense of self can potentially readdress the shortcomings in women’s self-efficacy.

Paddy Flynn moderated the first panel of the afternoon, taking the opportunity to explore the internal, less visible ways in which innovation and entrepreneurial thinking take place. Sandra Healy highlighted the need to create spaces that “enhance and foster that mindset”. An example being DCU’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre, known as Invent, as a space where there is a focus on co-creation and the inclusion of the external DCU community.

Is entrepreneurship for the means, or the ends? Garvan Callan turned our attention to motive in innovation and described the importance of understanding people’s ambitions. “It doesn’t work if you’re doing it for the brand”, pointing out the difference in seeing the entrepreneurial journey as a process instead of a plan.

Resources and risk were the key topics brought up by Sandra Whitney. In any entrepreneurial endeavourt, the availability of resources may depend on a trade-off, where you sacrifice some to gain others. She emphasised the importance of rewarding people for taking risks, as entrepreneurship “needs to be the core message”.

Sarita Johnston led the second and final panel discussion of the afternoon, drawing attention to what motives people to be entrepreneurial. The fact that entrepreneurship gave her the opportunity to design and “move at speed” was something that appealed to Liz Fulham. Her product and business is customer focussed and outward looking, which makes this characteristic important in all of their processes.

Paul Mullin began thinking about entrepreneurship at an early age, as he recalled his teenage years and his uncle advising him to innovate. Something which helped him in moments where his confidence emphasized, was “taking a step back” and looking at the positive impact of the product and the reaction from consumers. Never underestimate the importance of people and a supportive atmosphere. Anne Marie McSorleydescribed the positive Entrepreneurship of being involved with Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs where she met other women who were also scaling their ambition. Her advice for start-ups: be able to prove the product’s worth before you ask for funding.

The collaboration between DCU and Enterprise Ireland reflects the core strategies and values of both organisations. Enterprise Ireland has continuously reached outward into communities with initiatives and funding support schemes to help secure the success of local businesses, start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs who are taking that initial leap – some of whom were on stage at this event. In its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, DCU has laid out its central vision and mission.

“To transform lives and societies through education, research, innovation, and engagement” (DCU Strategic Plan, 2017-2022).

‘Stronger together’ appears to be the entrepreneurial motto. 

Article originally published at DCU NCFB News