Call for Papers
Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Wake of the Covid-19 Crisis
A special issue of
International Journal of Gender & Entrepreneurship
Professor Lene Foss, Jönköping University, Sweden / UiT - The Arctic University
of Norway, Norway
Associate Professor Kate Lewis, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Professor Colette Henry, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland
The Covid- 19 pandemic affects everyone, including our research community. While some research
endeavors have managed to garner specific launch/start-up support as a result of the Covid 19-
pandemic through media attention (e.g. directed research bids, fast tracking for ethical testing, etc),
most research has been impeded because planned empirical studies cannot be operationalized. As
such, the pandemic hampers the research efforts of those working in an already pressured
education/research sector. In this call for papers we aim to capture research that is capable of
providing new knowledge with regard to entrepreneurial behavior in this time of crisis.
Entrepreneurship research is critical in Universities and Business Schools. Most policy initiatives that
have been offered to protect economies during the Covid-19 crisis seem to target established
corporations (Kuckertz et al; 2020), however, there is a need for research that focuses on start-ups
and the self-employed, as well as the challenges they face and the support they receive from the
broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. Given that start-ups which shape future economic activity are
amongst the most vulnerable actors in the economy (Walsh & Cunningham, 2016), there is a need
for immediate research attention. Start-ups, due to their newness and smallness (Aldrich & Fiol
1994), as well as their lower legitimacy base (Zimmermann & Zeitz, 2002), are especially vulnerable
during the current Covid-19 crisis.
Women’s entrepreneurship is an area that needs specific research attention in the wake of the
Covid-19 pandemic, as self-employed and small and medium enterprises are at the center of the
current crises. According to a recent study, more than 50 % of SMEs have already lost significant
revenue and are at risk of being out of business within three months (OECD, 2020). Women face
specific challenges due to balancing work with increased household responsibilities, including
childcare due to school closures. Across the OECD countries, women also spending two hours more
per day on unpaid work at home than men (OECD Gender data portal). Furthermore, one quarter of
self-employed women have employees (OECD, 2019), consequently we can expect a significant
number of business exits and substantial job losses.
Solo self-employed individuals have been especially impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. These
entrepreneurs typically provide services to business and end-consumers, such as accounting, IT,
consulting, tourism, wellness and education. With the general curfew banning large public
gatherings, self-employed individuals operating as event managers, musicians and photographers
can no longer work. By losing substantial revenue, self-employed individuals face serious liquidity
challenges. Solo entrepreneurs often start their businesses out of necessity (de Vries, 2019), which is
found to motivate entrepreneurial behavior and strategic planning (Block et al; 2015). Most self-
employed individuals operate their businesses in the form of sole proprietorships, often failing to
distinguish between their business and their private life (Hyytinen & Russkaren, 2017). There is some
evidence that women operate businesses with lower levels of capitalization and are more reliant on
self-financing (OECD/European Union, 2019). Many rely on internal financing, and often have small
financial reserves. Consequently, a revenue decrease resulting from the Covid-19 crisis has
immediate implications for entrepreneurs’ personal incomes and their ability to finance their cost of
living. Women entrepreneurs may be at greater risk of having to close for extended periods, with
substantially reduced or no revenue.
Women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries is particularly at risk, as women’s anticipated
vulnerability through the Covid-19 crisis will likely be exacerbated. The exposure to health risks due
to areas with inadequate or underdeveloped health-care infrastructure is of immediate concern. The
female- to-male ratio of unpaid work ranges from more than three times in Latin America and the
Caribbean, to almost seven times in Northern Africa (OECD, 2019). Women’s entrepreneurship
research would benefit from more contributions from developing countries to add diversity to
contemporary entrepreneurship scholarship. Thus, this current call aims to attract contributions that
highlight the various geographical, political and institutional contexts in which women entrepreneurs
have been operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, shedding light on the challenges these contexts
have presented. Accordingly, we invite both theoretical and empirical reflection papers (4,000 to
5,000 words, excluding references) on a theme related to women’s entrepreneurship in the wake of
the Covid-19 crisis. We are open to a wide range of methodological approaches, including narrative
approaches as well as those that employ secondary data analyses or literature reviews to highlight
key issues or lessons learnt from Covid-19 (and other major crises), and which use findings to inform
entrepreneurs, educators, researchers and policy makers, or help shape a robust future research
agenda in this field. Reflecting some of the research perspectives discussed at the recent OECD
(2020) and DIRI (2020) webinars that focused on women’s entrepreneurship and the impact of
Covid-19, and acknowledging the additional family responsibilities that many women have had to
take on during Covid-19, we encourage researchers to consider aspects that have been especially
impacted by the crisis, such as: business growth (Orser), access to finance (Coleman), networking
(Henry) and intersectionality (Marlow). Authors might consider using the family/household unit as
their research context (Hughes), or give some consideration to the impact of gender in
entrepreneurship policymaking (Welter), especially during the current crisis.
Topics/research questions can include, but are not restricted to:
• How have women entrepreneurs experienced the Covid-19 crisis in terms of their
particular business and industry/region/country context?
• How have women managed the business-family intersphere?
• How have women entrepreneurs reoriented their business?
• Which learning processes have women entrepreneurs gone through and how have these
affected their further plans for their business?
• How do women entrepreneurs compare to their male counterparts during this time of
• Does the low capitalization of women’s businesses mean high vulnerability or low
• How have policy measures – whether existing or newly implemented to address Covid-
19 issues – helped (or hindered) women’s entrepreneurial activities?
• Analysis of specific initiatives designed to support during Covid-19 and targeted by
• Gendered comparative examinations of the experience of Covid-19 for small business
owners across country contexts
• Intersectional considerations of the gendered entrepreneurship experience during
• Critiques of structural discrimination embedded in policy responses to Covid-19.
Deadline and Submission Details
The submission deadline for all papers is 18 September 2020.
Authors are asked to please ensure that they tick the ‘Covid-19’ special issue box on submission.
To submit your research, please visit the Scholar One manuscript portal.
To view the author guidelines for this journal, please visit the journal's page.
Contact the Guest Editors:
Professor Lene Foss
Jönköping University, Sweden
Associate Professor Kate Lewis
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Professor Colette Henry
Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland
Aldrich, H.E. & Fiol, C.M. (1994) Fools rush in? The institutional context of industry creation. Academy
of Management Review, 19, 645-670.
Berglund, K., Ahl, H. & Pettersson, K. (2017) Tales of heroine entrepreneurs, in Henry, C., Nelson, T.
and Lewis, K.V. The Routledge Companion to Global female Entrepreneurship, pp 282-298.
Block, J.H., Kohn, K., Miller, D. & Ullrich, K. (2015) Necessity entrepreneurship and competitive
strategy. Small Business Economics, Vol. 44, pages 37–54.
de Vries, N., Liebregts, W. & van Stel, A. (2019) Explaining entrepreneurial performance of solo self-
employed from a motivational perspective, Small Business
DIRI (2020) Diana International Research Institute. Women’s entrepreneurship and Covid-19 Webinar,
24th June 2020.
Foss, L. (2004) 'Going against the grain.' Construction of Entrepreneurial Identity through Narratives, in
Steyart, C. and Hjort, D. (eds), Narrative and Discursive Approaches in Entrepreneurship. Edward
Elgar Publishing, pp. 80-104.
Hyytinen, A. & Ruskanen, O.P. (2007) Time use of the self-employed. Kyklos, 60 (1), 105-122.
Kuckerts, A., Brändle, L., Gaudig, A., Hinderer, S., Reyes, C.A.M., Prochotta, A., Steinbrink, K.M. &
Berger, E.S.C. (2020) Startups in time of crisis- A rapid response to the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 13.
OECD. (2020). Women’s Entrepreneurship and Covid-19 Webinar, 9th June 2020.
OECD Development Centre. (2019) Gender, Institutions and Development database (GID-DB) 2019).
OECD/European Union. (2019) The missing Entrepreneurs 2019: Policies for Inclusive
Entrepreneurship, OECD Publishing Paris.
OECD. (2020) Women at the core of the fight against COVID – 19 crisis. Tackling Coronavirus (Covid
19) Contributing to a global effort.
Pailot, P., Poroli, C. & Chasserio, S. ( 2017) Perceived legitimacy of women entrepreneurs: Between
identity legitimacy and entrepreneurial legitimacy. in Henry, C., Nelson, T. and Lewis, K.V. The
Routledge Companion to Global female Entrepreneurship, pp 299-323.
Zimmermann, M.A. & Zeitz, G.J. (2002) Beyond survival: achieving new venture growth by building
legitimacy. Academy of Management Review, 27, 414-431.