Gender and the construction of identity within climate technology innovation in Kenya

Working Paper
  • Published 03/03/14

This paper undertakes an analysis of the discursive construction of the entrepreneurial identity within media on climate technology (CT) innovation in Kenya. Using the STEPS Centre Pathways Approach along side a post-structuralist feminist identity framework, it explores the way that the narrative of entrepreneur-led innovation may include or exclude the framings of particular actors.

The paper draws on ideas of antagonism in identity construction, legitimacy, and access to resources, in order to identify those actors that may perceive themselves as, or be perceived as, more or less legitimate as CT entrepreneurs, thus being more or less likely to gain access to resources for CT innovation. Although the climate technology entrepreneur aligns in some ways with more normatively feminine notions of the caring social entrepreneur, overall the CT entrepreneur remains a masculine identity. Women are underrepresented in media portrayals of CT entrepreneurship. Further, portrayals of women CT entrepreneurs tend to question their legitimacy, depicting them as either requiring the support of men, or as taking up masculine characteristics in order to gain credibility.

The paper demonstrates that this might translate into more favourable attitudes towards men CT entrepreneurs when seeking access to institutional support. It recommends further research into the capacity for CT entrepreneurship to effectively incorporate marginalised framings, and where entrepreneurship will fail to meet their needs, it calls for increased support for appropriate alternative processes of climate technology innovation.

Published as part of our project Pro-poor, low carbon development: Improving low carbon energy access and development benefits in Least Developed Countries