I work as a researcher at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, where I am a founding member of the Women, Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Regional Ecosystem Development (WEiRED) research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in 2017. This project is led by Josephine McMurray, associate professor in Business Technology Management. The WEiRED project aims to advance knowledge on women and innovation and foster the role of women, as both innovators and entrepreneurs, in regional innovation ecosystems.
I studied business and then completed a PhD in Social Psychology in Barcelona, where I was introduced to myriad theories and developed my skills on qualitative research. Early in my research career I saw that organizations were trying to “adjust” for a female workforce, with all the pros and cons that this different treatment entails for women. That was surprising for me.
Soon I understood that the reason for these special programs is not maternity but the social role that women are expected to play in our society. Women are supposed to take care of the family, to raise the children, to educate them, to feed them... and a long list of other tasks.
Social expectations are what load women with stigmas, stereotypes, forms of discrimination such as the “glass ceiling,” the “concrete ceiling,” the “glass cliff,” the gender wage gap… and ultimately, all sort of barriers to prevent women from staying and advancing their career in an organization. Since I came to this insight, I have been exploring women entrepreneurs as an expression of women’s leadership. Therefore, I think that WEiRED project fits my obsession for improving women’s participation in business.
Not only do I explore research in this area, I work with community organizations to improve women’s participation in business, starting with girls at the elementary and secondary level. Since I was an assistant professor in Chile, I have served as a mentor for girls applying to the ADA Academy for tech startups and explored the formation of entrepreneurial teams within technology ventures, linking community group Girls in Tech Chile and the Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile. I am also a mentor for female entrepreneurs that operate in Chile, Canada, El Salvador, Germany and Israel.
My research focuses on work-life balance and well-being among opportunity-driven entrepreneurs (such as in STEM fields), women founders of high-tech startups, and "copreneurial" couples that manage a business together… and currently; #womeninnovators. I get to explore such interesting questions as what differences there are between male and female startup teams.
I envision a world with more women leaders and a large participation of women in business, academia, and politics. My aim at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics is to contribute to women achieving success, however they define business success.
You can find me on Twitter at @Kathy_Kuschel.
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