A new era of female entrepreneurship

Kathrine Molvik and others are entering traditionally male-dominated industries

Photo courtesy of Kathrine Molvik Kathrine Molvik, Female Entrepreneur of the year.

Photo courtesy of Kathrine Molvik
Kathrine Molvik, Female Entrepreneur of the year.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Kathrine Molvik was named this year’s Female Entrepreneur. Welding knowledge in Norway is experiencing a downfall, which leads to reduced quality, safety, and competitiveness for many of the country’s companies. Molvik wanted to do something about this and started her own company, FeC, in Knarvik in 2014. Her vision is to build an international knowledge center for material and welding technology for the whole value chain from education to research within the industry and lift it into the digital and robotic future. She is a true game changer! The prize was given to her by Crown Princess Mette-Marit on International Women’s Day, March 8. Chairing the jury was director Anita Krohn Traaset from Innovation Norway.

Women’s entrepreneurship is seen as being of great importance in Norway. It is considered a prerequisite for sustainable economic and regional development in the rural and sparsely populated areas. The government has launched a national plan to promote female entrepreneurship because women are a major resource of business creation. The program is influenced by a feminist empowerment paradigm seeking to tailor and transform the existing support system through measures aimed at woman.

We have a gender gap when it comes to education. The proportion of tertiary degrees awarded to women is about 80 percent in health and welfare studies but only 20 percent in computer science. The different educational choices tend to be concentrated in fewer occupations.

For many women the most important motive for starting a business is the desire to have more control over work situations and working hours, followed by the need to use their own resources and skills, support from family and friends, and a good potential for sales and profits. Women tend to be concentrated in a few service industries where the firms are small, operating in the local marketplace and making modest revenue. An increasing number of women are now establishing themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields, often areas that require a higher level of skill. This means a new rise to the modern woman entrepreneur.

In 2008 the government set a target that 40 percent of entrepreneurs would be women by 2013. The percentage decreased, however. Some argue that it is not so much about quotas as it is about creating role models for girls. Norway should learn from the U.S. and be better at encouraging each other. We need more success stories like Kathrine Molvik!

This article originally appeared in the April 22, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.