On 22 February my collaborator Sophia Renemar, a female entrepreneur who set up HeraHub Sweden, and I went to the Vinnova final conference on normcritical innovation where we presented and discussed our project on normcritical female entrepreneurship. Norm critique is not a common notion in Anglophone culture, possibly because there is a less strongly developed idea of norm – idiosyncracy being more the order of the day – than in Sweden. HeraHub is an all-female enterprise, designed to support female entrepreneurs – all off which in many different ways goes against the Swedish equality grain. One very important aspect of our research was that the entrepreneurs in this co-working hub had an average age of 49 and their businesses, in almost all cases their first one, were on average 3 years old. Given the general perception of entrepreneurs as geeks starting in their parents’ garage and 30-somethings wearing sharp suits, this was quite a different demographic. It also meant that setting up a business occurred for them within a work life cycle where they had considerable prior experience of being employed in different fields. Many indeed set up a business in reaction against their previous work experiences of not being valued, being over-worked, being ‘good citizens’ but never being given credit, or also classically, one more restructuring too many. They were therefore less ideas-driven (‘I have a great idea – how can I turn it into a business?’) than refuseniks of neoliberal working conditions.
Food for thought!