Older Women in Learning and Enterprise 50+


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Lifelong Learning Programme


London Metropolitan University
The Municipality of Norrköping

COERC and CME Research on Women 'Olderpreneurs'

ResearchCOERC and CME Research on Women ‘Olderpreneurs’ CME and its sister research centre, the Comparative Organisation and Equality Research Centre (COERC) at London Metropolitan University have been working on two joint research projects on older women and self employment funded by the London Metropolitan University Business School (LMBS) since 2008.

Life Stages and Life Events: Older Women Moving Into Self-employment

Women are the largest underrepresented group in the UK in terms of business start-up and ownership. Yet research has shows that the majority of new businesses in the UK have been created by people in their 40s and 50s, referred to in the UK, as ‘olderpreneurs.’ The question this project seeks to address is how are women over 50 in the UK faring in this wave of 50 plus ‘olderpreneurship’?

The project is a longitudinal study which involves tracking the progress of women participants who were on European Social Funded CME self-employment and entrepreneurship courses targeted at women over 50 years of age. These courses all had the major objective of tackling gender discrimination by enabling women to be economically active and to establish sustainable businesses. The project initially surveyed 100 women who had completed CME courses, many of whom were at a relatively early stage of entrepreneurial activity during the CME course. On completion of the questionnaire, women were asked if they would be willing to participate in interviews as part of a 3-5 year longitudinal study. The follow up in-depth interviews focus on the women’s journey into self employment and business ownership and explore the ways in which women incorporate and represent gender and age in their accounts and experiences of self employment.

Cross Strand Research in Equality and Diversity: ‘New’ Equality Strands and Employment, Self-employment and Entrepreneurship

This project draws on research into ‘older’ (50+) women’s self-employment and entrepreneurship via an innovative comparative study of participants on the OWLE50+ programme in the UK and Italy. The EU funded OWLE50+ project provided workshops and support for women over 50, designed to enhance their prospects for employment and self-employment and to encourage community involvement and active (senior) citizenship.
The LMBS funded research was enabled by the collaboration forged through the OWLE50+ project between CME, COERC and TECHNOPOLIS colleagues. A survey and in-depth interviews were completed with 10 OWLE50+ participants in each country by London Metropolitan University and TECHNOPOLIS staff. The research explored the intersection of age and gender in the accounts of women living in the contrasting societal contexts provided by South East England and the Province of Bari in the Puglia region of Italy. The context to this research in both countries is the implications of rapidly ageing populations on welfare expenditure at a time of recession and the associated expectations that older people will wish to remain economically, physically and socially active and independent for longer.
For more information on these projects and research publications please visit the COERC website

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