Another Gender and Enterprise Network Confreat Success!

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Prof  Julia Rouse presenting to the Confreat delegates

The second GEN ‘Confreat’ (conference/retreat) was held on the 17th, 18th and 19th of July 2017 at  Manchester Metropolitan University,  coordinated by Sally Jones (Manchester Met) and Maria Villares-Varela (University of Southampton). The GEN (Gender and Enterprise Network) is a special interest group of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE), which aims to develop gender and entrepreneurship scholars nationally and internationally. Professor Julia Rouse, Head of Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre and Sally Jones, a Reader –  also based in the Sylvia –  are both co-founders of GEN, which was set up in 2012 and has a vibrant and active membership and events programme.

The idea for the confreat emerged from a desire expressed by our members for a unique space, where the rigour of an academic conference was combined with the supportive and encouraging aspects of a retreat environment. This experience is designed to sharpen delegate’s paper-writing skills and to develop them both academically and professionally. Our first confreat in 2015 received an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees who found it “energising”, “inspirational”, “motivating” and “essential”.

The 2017 event was sponsored by MMU’s Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre, and was supported by a grant from the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS). The intimate event attracted 25 doctoral, early career and more established scholars interested in developing their gender and entrepreneurship papers for a conference or journal. Participants came from a total of twenty-one institutions mainly based in the UK, with contributions also from Ireland and France.

Each delegate worked in small groups with an expert reviewer, receiving individual and exhaustive feedback from more experienced scholars and peer feedback from their fellow group members.  Expert reviewers facilitated the formation of peer-mentoring groups to track and give feedback on the papers as they progress to publication/presentation in the coming year.

This year we were pleased to welcome the following eminent gender and entrepreneurship scholars as reviewers: Dr Haya Al-Dajani (University of Plymouth), Professor John Kitching (Kingston University), Dr Kate Lewis (MMU), Dr Patricia Lewis (University of Kent), and Professor Susan Marlow (University of Nottingham). We are very grateful for their time and for the support they offered both before and during the event.

In addition to working on paper development, the event included guest presentations on various aspects of academic publishing and career progression. On day one Professor Julia Rouse presented on approaches to writing, while Dr Kate Lewis’ presentation “Successfully Publishing Gender and Entrepreneurship Research”, drew on her experiences as an editor of the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship as well as her personal experience of publishing in this field.

On day two presentations turned to a broader focus on research and research funding, with Professor Julia Rouse introducing “Engaged and Activist Scholarship” and potential funding sources for gender and entrepreneurship research; and Dr Haya Al-Dajani sharing her experience of successfully applying for a large ESRC grant.

We were really pleased to be able to develop, not only the attendees’ papers but also their networks and collaborative opportunities.  Delegates found it useful and inspiring, saying: “being with my peers was by far the most valuable part of the event for me, and re-familiarising myself with current research in the GEN area was absolutely fantastic!”, and “it was really useful to get independent views on the work and on my approach.” Another delegate commented, “ I have come home re-energised!”

We look forward to following up on the progress of their papers over the coming months.

For more information about GEN and to join our online community please visit: and/or

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Gen Confreat networking dinner

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