AYBENIZ AKDENIZ AR- Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University 

Researcher Links Travel Grants Recipient 

Research Topic: the effect of gendered regulatory institutions on women`s entrepreneurship in Turkey and the UK.

The specific objective of my research was to examine the gender gap in female entrepreneurship in the Turkish economy and to learn from the experiences and policies of the UK

I visited Cardiff University Business School between 5 August 2015 and 5 January 2016 as part of the Newton-Katip Çelebi Researcher links Travel Grants programme. The goal of my visit was to carry out academic research into women’s entrepreneurship, improve my scientific research abilities, create networks through the exchange of information and build the foundation for future collaborations. I wanted to visit Cardiff University because of the highly recognised academics in the field of women’s entrepreneurship and the availability of a local research centre. 

During my research visit I investigated women’s entrepreneurship and gender discrimination. Turkey ranks 72nd out of 188 countries according to the Gender Inequality Index. This is far behind middle income countries and even further behind when compared to EU member states. Women in many parts of Turkey are disadvantaged in most aspects of live because of the dominance of men in politics, culture, education and business. Women's involvement in the economy as entrepreneurs is hindered by the existence of gender discrimination that is prevalent in Turkish society. However, Turkey has recently been working to encourage women entrepreneurs, although the process has been limited due to the lack of capital, cultural norms and the high percentage of poor women without proper qualifications or skills.

The UK has been able to drastically decrease gender inequality by raising cultural awareness and policy directed at providing women with economic independence. The specific objective of my research was to examine the gender gap in female entrepreneurship in the Turkish economy and to learn from the experiences and policies of the UK as well as to create greater awareness amongst different groups, encourage women to set up their own businesses and most importantly provide policy makers with guidance on strategies that could have a positive impact on women’s equality in Turkey.

With the supervision of Dr Shumaila Yousafzai, we embarked on a comparative analysis of the UK and Turkey entrepreneurship ecosystems focussing on various dimensions of gender discrimination where political, cultural, financial and educational factors were examined. Entrepreneurship ecosystem refers to the elements such as individuals, organisations or institutions that influence individuals to become or not to become an entrepreneur. Our research revealed that the UK entrepreneurship ecosystem is conducive for women to become entrepreneurs while in the Turkish context the ecosystem is weak, which inhibits women from getting involved in entrepreneurship. 

The UK has been able to minimise the gender gap through financial incentives and awareness in society regarding women’s equal status. In Turkey, gender discrimination is still very prevalent and serves as a cultural barrier to women’s entrepreneurship along with restricted financial incentives for females. As a solution, our study suggests that a rearrangement of the Turkish entrepreneurship ecosystem through the introduction of new strategies, practices and policies will increase women’s participation in the Turkish economy as entrepreneurs. 

The contribution of women entrepreneurs to the Turkish economy has many advantages. Inhibiting a large segment of the society from building businesses encumbers a country’s productive labour force and economic value. Another advantage is the creative force women can have on businesses; new ideas, models and ways of conducting business will be undoubtedly be discovered by incentivising women to become entrepreneurs. Finally, as women create businesses these in turn will create the need for more employees, which will ultimately contribute to the overall stability and growth of Turkey’s economy. Through training programmes, cultural awareness campaigns and financial incentives for women’s entrepreneurship a positive economic impact can be achieved within a short period of time. Universities are not outside the entrepreneurship ecosystem and I believe that, as academics, we have a great role in training and researching ways to create gender equality. To further this goal, I am planning to share my experiences gained through this research visit with my home university (Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University) to seek ways to establish a centre that will conduct research, offer business training courses to women and guide gender equal policies in the field of entrepreneurship. 

This academic visit allowed me to identify research areas that require further development in order to become a more skilled researcher, and I can definitely say that I have gained a substantial level of knowledge through this interaction. I met with academics from different countries and planned for future collaborations. Moreover, living in a different culture, having the ability to compare the entrepreneurial environment in a developed country with the one that is developing and observing the UK academic environment has made me much more confident in the field of international scientific research. 

I would like to express my appreciation to my advisor and her team along with all the colleagues at Cardiff University Business School for this wonderful experience. I would also like to thank my home university for their support through this process. Thank you Newton–Katip Çelebi Fund for this meaningful support!