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Women in research

Women in research: Mette Søgaard Nielsen

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, please meet some of our women researchers from SDU and learn their perspectives on being a woman in research.

By Katrine Findsen, , 3/13/2021

Mette Søgaard Nielsen

Mette, mesn@sam.sdu.dk, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management. She researches how entrepreneurs utilise and are influenced by their network when starting a business. In addition, she is interested in how entrepreneurs’ behaviour is affected by different types of emotions, and how one’s network can be a source of a number of different emotions – both positive and negative.

There is a general notion that the research world is dominated by men. Do you accept this notion? And how have you yourself managed to build a career in a ‘man’s world’?

I’m aware that that notion exists and that it’s a major challenge for women in several places. However, I don’t experience it in my own everyday life as a researcher – neither locally at my own department nor more broadly in the international research environment within my field. From my perspective, I’ve never been building a career in a ‘men's world’ – on the contrary. Every day, I’m surrounded by ambitious and inspiring women – and men.

Every day, I’m surrounded by ambitious and inspiring women – and men.

Mette Søgaard Nielsen, Associate Professor

Who are your biggest role models? Do you have someone you take example from?

My role models are very local. Although it’s been quite a few years since I completed my PhD, my former PhD supervisor Kim Klyver is still my greatest role model. He has a completely unique ability to make other people smarter and inspire them through his own research, without losing touch with reality.

Our work at the university often involves many different types of tasks, and consequently also different people, whom we take example from. In particular, I believe that in recent years I’ve realised that one’s strength lies in being able to define one’s own role as a researcher and continuously evolve.

What do you dream of achieving with your research?

I dream of making a difference – I guess we all do. One can make a difference in many ways, and the inspiring thing about our work as researchers is precisely that we have the opportunity to make our mark in both theory and practice. From a theoretical perspective, I dream that my ideas and my research can help move the field of research and enlighten us about the important role of the network in the start-up process for entrepreneurs. After all, this is precisely what our work as researchers is all about: constantly adding small pieces to a bigger picture. To help fitting one of the slightly larger pieces would be a dream come true.

From a more practical perspective, I dream of making a difference for entrepreneurs at both the individual and societal levels. Individually by helping entrepreneurs develop their understanding of networks as something that can both restrict and advance them, and that they themselves play a crucial role in this. At the societal level, I try to help improve conditions and framework conditions for entrepreneurs by emphasising the importance of role models and taking an active stance on networks for the start-up process and the subsequent development. In my view, both the theoretical and practical dream is not something that I will end up ‘achieving’ through my research, but instead something that I am constantly working on – and that is, in fact, my driving force.