FEMEM (1850-2015)

Women and Firms in Spain (1850-2015). Triangulating History, Economy and Society (FEMEM)  RTI2018-093884-B-I00




Recent investigations into business history have determined that women actually played an active and visible role in the modernisation of the contemporary business fabric. This disruptive idea is the focal point of our research project, the aim of which is to analyze the evolution of women in business network in Spain since 1850. The economic industrialization process opened up a spectrum of investment opportunities, offered better business diversification, and democratized access to capital. The acquisition of social rights led to women participating in the capital and management of firms, but incompletely. The hypotheses to be developed are related to the absence of women from the debate about entrepreneurship, and their persistence in the collective imagination as incidental business owners or entrepreneurs; to the appearance of legal new technologies for creating new companies or new financial instruments (new financial products for private savings, expansion of the concept of limited liability) which allowed them to access ownership of financial and commercial capital; and, to the changes that have allowed women to access company management on all levels over the last 50 years. Together with the general objective of the international scientific community, the project hinges on three methodological approaches. Although the study epicenter is Spain, a set of geografic scenarios will be analyzed to identify  shared patterns that offer polyhedric explanations and go further than the mere descriptive  of ‘counting’ the number of women linked to businesses in this country or that sector. An analysis of the evolution of the socio-institutional framework, new legal forms, and the access to company management roles, are some of the other novelties proposed by the project. Furthermore, the use of cliometrics would allow us to test the hypothesis – common in business organization – about the greater economic risk aversion of women. Due to the difficulty of obtaining data, no existing studies have so far tested this hypothesis in the long term. Above all analysis and searching for archival sources will include a rich set of institutional variables that demonstrate the historical and evolutionary nature of the study.

Our CHALLENGE is the DIVERSITY OF GENDER IN THE BUSINESS CULTURE, and it is defined within Challenge 6 “Social Sciences and Humanities and Science with and for the Society” of the National R&D and Innovation Plan. The same challenge has a clear place in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan (H2020). The project has the backing of several private organizations: Woman Forward (national think tank), OMEP (Association of Business Women-Murcia) and the Business Network International. The suport of public administrations will heighten the socioeconomic impact of the proposal. It will also allow recommendations to be made to influence policies related to female entrepreneurship and the fostering of equality in the workplace.

To carry out all the above, we have a solvent team of scholars in business history, social and economic analysis from a gender perspective, and institutional analysis. The international impact of the academic results is guaranteed by the prestige of the academic centers where our international colleagues are based (Yale-USA, CONICET-Argentina, the Russian Royal Academy of History, among others)


Our Team

Seven Agir (Middle East Technical University)
Timothy Guinnane (Yale University)

Carmen M. Hernández (UMU) Andrea Lluch (CONICET)

Antonio Minguez (UMU)

Susana Martínez-Rodríguez (UMU)

Delfina Roca (UMU)

María Xosé Rodríguez-Galdo (USC)

Juan Francisco Ugedo (UMU)

Galina Ulianova (Russian Royal Academy of History)