Women and Social Entrepreneurship

Professor Mary Conway Dato-on receives a Fulbright grant to research social entrepreneurship in Mexico.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

“I am definitely a woman of the Ms. magazine era, the 1970s,” says Mary Conway Dato-on, associate professor of international business. That background has, at least in part, fueled her research, which has included a focus on the empowerment of women and social entrepreneurship. “I was teaching social entrepreneurship before it was called social entrepreneurship.”

By that term, Dato-on means using entrepreneurial skills, like innovation, to solve societal-wide problems. Essentially, social entrepreneurship is the creation of sustainable methods of economic develop and prosperity, essentially a blending of for-profit and nonprofit strategies to enable social change.

Her research on this subject has taken her across the world, primarily to Asia, which has been the focus of social entrepreneurship studies, more so than many other parts of the developing world. But other places—on the American continent, for instance—are much closer to home and just as fruitful terrain. Also, Dato-on’s second language (and second degree) is Spanish, which makes this part of the world a bit more convenient.

Dato-on has received the Fulbright-Garcia Robles Award, which will enable her to spend the fall semester in Mexico—working with Rollins’ partner school, the IPADE Business School in Mexico City—conducting research on social entrepreneurship.

The partnership with IPADE “allows me to learn more about the Mexican context from Mexicans,” Dato-on says, who has taken students to Mexico for the past 10 years.

The Fulbright grant, she says, was “a lifelong goal for me. It’s always been the brass ring.” When the semester is over, she hopes that her research will take the form of journal publications and conference proceedings—all of which will increase our understanding about the Mexican culture and perhaps improve the knowledge of social entrepreneurship in Latin America.