International Women’s Day 2023: Increasing gender diversity in enterprise

The University of Oxford is committed to supporting entrepreneurship. However, many inequalities in the entrepreneurship ecosystem remain. To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey hosted an open discussion about the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs and what action is needed to drive change for current and future generations of women.  

In her opening remarks, Professor Kylie Vincent (University Academic Champion for Women in Entrepreneurship) introduced IDEA (Increasing Diversity in Enterprising Activities). IDEA is a set of long term and sustainable actions and interventions aimed at addressing inequalities in entrepreneurship at Oxford.  She spoke about Oxford’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture and the explosion of spinout companies founded out of University research over the few past decades. Despite this success, we remain a long way from parity in terms of women founders. She encouraged funders to embrace the changes that women can bring. 

“We’re missing out on some of the fantastic talent from women and other underrepresented groups who could be taking forward their brilliant research ideas.”  

There are signs of hope however, as interest and awareness of enterprising activity is growing, and larger numbers of women are participating in the training on offer.  She finished by saying,  

“We can look forward to a really exciting future here as we start to draw on the fantastic diversity of experience and mindset across the University.”  

The Vice-Chancellor and Prof Vincent were joined by Dr Adaku Jennifer Agwunobi - Founder, Hairgoals, and Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering Science, Paula Skokowski - Fund Manager, Oxford Angel Fund and Seth Jenson - DPhil at the Said Business School. Together they discussed how Oxford can foster conditions that will enable more women to become leaders and entrepreneurs.  

On opening the event, Chief Diversity Officer Professor Tim Soutphommasane stressed the integral role of gender equality in driving excellence.  He thanked the panel for “an engaging discussion that highlighted the need for visible role models and for more inclusive networks and cultures.”

You can watch a recording of the discussion below.


International Women's Day: Increasing gender diversity in enterprise