Publication Date

Summer 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Global Studies


Kathrine Richardson


Biotech, Business Clusters, GIS, Hi-Tech, Women Leaders

Subject Areas

Geographic information science and geodesy; Economics


Women entrepreneurs are on the rise and their numbers have grown at one and a half times the rate of small enterprises generally over the last 15 years. In spite of this, women are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Women face additional barriers when forging careers within these fields and obtaining startup capital. This study examines female business ownership within the fields of hi-tech and biotech, and the factors that support startups by women throughout the state of California. As both of these industry sectors are known to cluster geographically around sources of venture capital, university research and development (R&D) investment, and skilled labor, the study explored how these factors influence women entrepreneurs through two methods of analysis, specifically, a quantitative GIS analysis using exploratory geo-statistical tools, and a qualitative analysis using semi-structured interviews of twenty women business leaders. Results from the study demonstrated that factors that encourage hub formation are prone to cluster geographically, that women receive less venture capital than their male counterparts, biotech as a sector is more open than hi-tech to women’s participation, high numbers of women starting businesses alongside their alma mater, and a high participation of women in business accelerators and incubators.