November 24, 2014, by Emma Thorne

New book tracks women’s business aspirations

A Nottingham academic has tracked the career trajectories of 17 women from the recession-hit Britain of the 90s to the recession-hit Britain of today in a new book.

Professor Laurie Cohen, of Nottingham University Business School, spoke to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 on Friday about her study which has led to the book, Imagining Women’s Careers.

Professor Cohen, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, interviewed the women from a northern British town in 1993 about their aspirations then interviewed the same women 17 years later to find out whether their careers had lived up to their expectations.

She told Woman’s Hour that the women generally had aspirations that were linked to their own occupation, which often also dictated whether they aspired to own their own businesses. For example, hoteliers and graphic designers were more likely to think of launching their own business as the natural progression in their career.

She added: “It was also related to people’s upbringings and those who came from small business and entrepreneurial families really had small business ownership on their radar. For others it was absolutely impossible, people whose parents had worked for state owned industries for example never would have imagined careers in self-employment.”

When she returned 17 years later she found that most women in the study had left their jobs within organisations because their aspirations weren’t being fulfilled.

“They were being stifled, demeaned and so on,” she told Jenny Murray. “Having left, through self-employment and setting up their own businesses they were in charge, they were defining what was going on and were much more able to fulfil those aspirations.”

The full interview can be heard on the BBC iPlayer Radio.

Posted in Social Sciences