Janine Heinrich has been through it herself. “I’ve been through the process of founding a company,” says the twenty-five-year-old WHU alumna with Ghanaian roots. And during that process, she felt the prejudices held against female founders who also belong to a minority group. Heinrich, who successfully completed the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management at the end of this past September, has been honored by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Koblenz for her master’s thesis, earning the regional Prize in Higher Education for 2022.
As the title of her work implies—“An Exploration of Intersectionality’s Influence on the Experience and Resources of Female Minority Founders—Heinrich took a close look at the experienced had by minority women as they founded their companies. She also examined the ways in which intersectionality had an impact on their identities and their chances on the market. And this is a topic worthy of attention, as there is both a gender-based divide within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as one based on ethnicity. At least, this is what the results of a study conducted by DiversityVC suggest. According to the study, women are the recipients of only 9% of all investments made. Of that total, 2.8% hail from the Middle East, 1.8% identify as Latina, and less than 1% are black. For her master’s thesis, Janine Heinrich surveyed 28 female founders, eventually coming to the conclusion that intersectionality plays a decisive role in the founder’s journey for women—and can have a negative impact on the resources available to them and the challenges they face. “For me, it was about finding out why this is the case, because that’s the only way to change things,” she says. According to her, the only way for this to happen is if, first and foremost, policymakers simplify the start-up process and if investors change their behavior.
As every year, the range of topics examined in the award-winning papers honored at the ceremony was broad—ranging from conspiracy theories and their relevance for public administration to the phenomenon of “cyber-grooming” on gaming platforms and the positive effects of relationship-oriented support for young cancer patients.
The regional Prize in Higher Education, which is endowed with a total of €20,000, is given every year by the Business and Science Alliance Koblenz to provide moral and financial support for young researchers. This year, the Rhineland-Palatinate Police Academy helped organize the event. All eight winners received a certificate and a portion of the prize money amounting to €2,500. Each university selects its own award recipients.
In addition to Janine Heinrich (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management), the full list of recipients across all participating schools are as follows: Dr Sonja Ehlers (University of Koblenz-Landau), Emma Schlosser (Koblenz University of Applied Sciences), Dr. Jens Stäudle (VPU – Vinzenz Palotti University), Viktoria Zapart (University of Applied Science of the Deutsche Bundesbank), Sabrina Maria Mistler (Police Academy of Rhineland-Palatinate), Laura Denninghoff (zfh – Zentrum für Fernstudien im Hochschulverbund), and Nina Pünger (University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration of Rhineland-Palatinate).
You can find the video of Janine Heinrich's work here.