Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Role Modeling as a Pedagogical Strategy in Entrepreneurship Education for Women and Girls: An Interactive Model of Transformational Learning

Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Role Modeling as a Pedagogical Strategy in Entrepreneurship Education for Women and Girls: An Interactive Model of Transformational Learning

Article excerpt

This article presents a pedagogical model that utilizes students as primary researchers in the identification, interviewing, and then reporting on women entrepreneurs as a major component of a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship course. The purpose of the course is to attract students who may not be familiar with the entrepreneurship concept itself, the role of women in such economic ventures, or the possibilities for people like themselves in such a career avenue. Students are exposed to the accomplishments of women entrepreneurs throughout U.S. history in the broad categories of agriculture and mining; construction; communication; manufacturing; service (both for profit and not-for-profit); transportation; and wholesale and retail trade. This content experience is then enhanced by the students' own direct interaction with and interviewing of women entrepreneurs. The implementation, potential outcomes, and possible adaptations of the course are described, and this transformational learning process model is illustrated.

The assessment, consideration, and viability of creating an organization as a career option can be influenced through various educational strategies. According to researcher Nancy Carter and her colleagues, "Individuals can be taught knowledge, skills, and behaviors to improve their effectiveness in the tasks necessary for business creation...[these] may have more of an impact on an individual's choice of starting a business than any assumed innate desire" (2003, p. 17).

However, many individuals who have the potential to initiate organizational entities that could have economic impact may not do so because they have no knowledge of, or have not interacted with, people "like themselves" in such roles (Burke and McKeen 1990). This is particularly true for women and girls. Although there is some academic debate over the extent of role model influence in entrepreneurial decision-making (Carter et al. 2003,2002; Rae and Carswell 2000), few question its contribution. Thus, first discussed is the rationale for a course on women's multidisciplinary entrepreneurship that has interactive role modeling as a foundational element so that the perception and viability of entrepreneurship by and for women and girls considering careers in various disciplines can be positively impacted. Second, a model is presented based on this interactive relationship exchange.

The theoretical underpinnings of this article are derived from a grounded theory process (Figure 1) as applied to educational research about classroom teaching; that is, establishing a research situation using observation, conversation, and interviewing; coding and comparing data gathered; observing what emerges and helping people make sense of their experiences; writing about these exchanges; and analyzing the results to better understand the patterning within this social network situation (Goulding 2002; Strauss and Corbin 1990). Such a methodology provides flexibility that enables both the students and the teacher to build theory about what evolves from the combination of these experiences. Thus, in one set of circumstances, the results may reflect entrepreneurial activity, yet, in another, student learning.

Students take "storytelling" about and by historical and current practitioners and combine this with a distinct exchange between participating entrepreneurs and the students to create an enhanced understanding of the entrepreneurship career decision-making process and choice. Emergent behavioral outcomes and the lessons learned from these narratives are noted. From such a perspective, we built a preliminary model representing the relationship between the practitioner/entrepreneur, the students, the teacher, and our combined overlapping environments based on the key constructs of role modeling/mentoring, storytelling, and social capital (Figure 2).

Women's Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Course Rationale

Female Invisibility

Kourilsky and Walstad (1998) surveyed U. …

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