What comes to mind when you think about entrepreneurship and gender equality? Do you envision a greater presence of non-male entrepreneurs? An increased representation of women in leadership positions? Or perhaps a greater focus on the development of products and services tailored for female users?

On this International Womens Day we, at Linköping Science Park, would like to hight light the unseen enabler of innovation – female partners to male entrepreneurs.

This is the main subject for our newly released book, Invisible Participation. A book that not only gives space to the voices of these women, but also discusses what exists at the intersection of two governmental missions – promoting entrepreneurship and promoting gender equality. This book does not aim to point any fingers nor has it got a mission to tell you what is right or wring. But it aims to broadens the understanding of what gender equality means in the context of entrepreneurship and business. It highlights new voices and perspectives to facilitate discussions on how to use this newfound knowledge. The book is based on the research of Matilda Eriksson and here doctoral thesis on business administration: Entrepreneurship’s silence(d) voices – a
narrative study of women who share their life with a man who is an entrepreneur.

Download the book here!

So our message for you today is to:

  1. Read the book
  2. Contemplate
  3. Tell us what you think

A word from our CEO, Lena Miranda:

“The first time I heard Matilda Eriksson, doctor of business administration at Stockholm University, present the results of her research, it was as if the roof of the auditorium lifted. How could we have missed these perspectives at work? I have to admit that my point of departure on equality was about how we could encourage more women to become entrepreneurs, managers, directors, investors, and owners. And to help inspire more children and young adults – especially girls – to learn how to code.

Lena Miranda, CEO Linköping Science Park

Lena Miranda, CEO Linköping Science Park

Rarely, if ever, had I thought about the role played by the partner in the creation of successful businesses. Not even when a well-known entrepreneur talked about how he had foregone family dinners to focus on his company did the penny drop. Above all, the sacrifices the entrepreneur had made saddened me. But I thought little about what the partner enabled by taking care of the home and supporting him, or what their financial agreement looked like.

Naturally, the innovation-support system is to promote economic growth and equality. And of course, the backers want to see quantifiable results, even if we often grapple with what key ratios are relevant and how we are to go about following them up. Our work therefore becomes even harder if we are expected to take a system view, ponder on underlying factors and take in as many different perspectives as possible. Because if there is one thing that Matilda’s research has given us, it is new perspectives. At the same time, what we need to do is obvious. Our task is to see the whole picture, because only then will the hidden assets become more salient.

If we factor in the entire economic and social capital that supports and enables the entrepreneur, another narrative than the one to which we are accustomed takes shape. Because commonly it is thanks to his partner that the entrepreneur is better placed to succeed and generate the economic growth that ultimately not only benefits the company, town and region but also strengthens Sweden as a whole.

It goes without saying that the whole picture should be factored in and discussed with the entrepreneur, even within the confines of our job – which, if the government wants to create true equality, should therefore include shedding light and providing guidance on these perspectives too. Because there are plenty of tools to use, for which the dialogue is a solid starting point.

The question I have been asking myself recently is how much inequality depends on our doing as we have always done without further reflection. If I turn the question round, we might wonder what kind of entrepreneur does not want to bring prosperity to his family, who does not want to give his partner and children better financial stability. How does the entrepreneur himself regard the value that his family brings to the business? How would it have fared if they had not existed?

If we are unsure about the value of the people closest to the entrepreneur, we can always consider the opposite – what things would be like without them.

Matilda Eriksson presents her research at the book release for Invisible Participation.


As innovation-support systems, we often talk about our role and responsibility. We are a kind of intervening agent operating across boundaries and promoting a wide variety of processes. We are incubators, science parks and innovation hubs. We are human-centered go-betweens, liaising between research and the private and public sectors. How we lead, the spaces we provide and the culture we nurture, the questions we ask, the people we summon and the dialogues we hold – it all makes a difference. Our job is to create spaces and environments for complex contexts. For learning and collaborations that can change the system. When the innovation environments are at their best, this is exactly what we do – and I think we can be even better at it.

There is one thing I know about blind spots. They require us to resign ourselves to the fact of their existence. And that is because they tell us that there are things out there, people and stories, that we know nothing about – yet. Therefore I hope that this book will galvanize you as you read it. That it irritates you, sparks your curiosity and inspires you. Because this means that you have also taken note of a previous blind spot. The question is what you want to do about it.”

LENA MIRANDA, CEO of Linköping Science Park


Learn more about how Linköping Science Park works with diversity and equality here: