Calling Yorkshire Female Business Owners – Have Your Story Told

Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change

Hannah Dean is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Leeds University Business School. She was recently awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for three years. Out of 950 applicants, Hannah was one of only 45 successful postdoctoral researchers to be awarded this fellowship.

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When I started my PhD, it was during the recession in 2009. My background was in marketing and I wanted to look at how marketing could help female business owners better cope with the recession. When I started reading about female entrepreneurs in policy documents and literature however, I found that women had been portrayed as problems that needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to reinforce this discourse – that female business owners are problematic – so I decided to take a feminist critical stance rather than a marketing approach.

My British Academy Fellowship project is an extension of my PhD and will involve collecting and archiving female business owners’ oral history accounts in Yorkshire over the last 70 to 80 years. I’ve chosen to focus on Yorkshire due to its diverse industrial heritage and the major economic, social and demographic changes it has undergone in the past few decades.

This is a very important project given that the voice of female business owners, notably in Yorkshire, is still missing and their achievements remain largely undervalued and invisible. By collecting and archiving these oral history accounts, the project aims to make visible female business owners’ accomplishments which otherwise would be lost, and to offer insights into their working lives. I also hope that these collected stories and experiences will enhance our understanding and appreciation of women in business and their contribution to the UK economy and society.

I’m looking for participants to interview so please do get in touch if you are interested in contributing to the project and if you would like to share your stories. I want to represent a wide variety of women and their different experiences. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, or whether it’s a current business or you are now retired. The only criteria is that you are a woman who owns/owned a business in Yorkshire.

My project offers an invaluable chance for female business owners in Yorkshire to write their own history and make their voices heard. The archive will be available to the public so that these oral accounts can be widely disseminated.

If you’re interested in the project but want to find out more, I am happy to travel to you for an informal chat first and to give you some more information. (Participants will have the option of whether they would like to be named in the study or not.)

If you are, or used to be, a female business owner or self-employed woman in Yorkshire and would be interested in taking part in the study or finding out more about it, please email

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University Business School or the University of Leeds.