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Women’s Journeys through Entrepreneurship in Tourism (WomENT)

WomENT attempted to advance understanding of women’s experiences of tourism entrepreneurship. As consistently identified in several EU policies, entrepreneurship is fundamental to economic development, and strengthening this requires maximizing the potential pool of successful entrepreneurs, of all identity positions, especially addressing the persistent under-representation of women. This is a pressing issue because women account for just 29% of entrepreneurs. Tourism in particular is advocated as an accessible entrepreneurship gateway for women because of the predominance of small firms and relatively low entry barriers, but, even so, the proportion of women entrepreneurs remains well below equality. Given that some 9% of European GDP comes from tourism, this represents a significant lost opportunity for individuals, communities and economies. While the barriers to entrepreneurship faced by women have been explored — and include difficulties in accessing finance, networking, and reconciling business and family obligations, the methodologies used have not [fully] acknowledged the complexity of women’s entrepreneurial journeys and have not accounted for the different pathways undertaken by women entrepreneurs, that lead to variations in challenges and opportunities.

Hence WomENT utilised a post-structuralist feminist approach, reinforced by mixed methods analyses, to identify key contingent factors that determine effective tourism entrepreneurship actions, practices and performances.

Aims and Objectives

This research aimed to understand the different pathways of women’s entrepreneurial journeys in a changing tourism industry, and how different environments, agents, policies and actions across different scales (macro, meso and micro) influence opportunities, motivations and challenges. 


Research Objectives:

  • To conduct a critical evaluation of women’s entrepreneurial journeys, to identify and assess the different pathways that women follow, based on a post-structuralist theoretical framework.
  • To develop evidence-based policy and practice recommendations to foster women’s entrepreneurship in tourism.
  • To promote the culture of entrepreneurship among women in the tourism industry, through effective research-based dissemination.

Project Team and Partners

Principal Investigator:

Cristina Figueroa-Domecq, University of Surrey



Anna de Jong, University of Glasgow

Allan Williams, University of Surrey

Albert Kimbu, University of Surrey

Project Publications and Links