Andrew Fairley


Research topic: Communities of (High-Tech) Practice: The Negotiation of Meaning, Identity and Gender in the UK Startup Industry

Research interests: Entrepreneurship, innovation, socio-technical systems, and gender. For my PhD project I am examining how high-tech startups act as communities dedicated to learning and innovation, whilst bringing a gendered lens to the research. I am interested in how these communities can provide a resource for the construction of a gendered identity, and what impact this may have on the startup industry.

Supervisors: Dr Lynne Baxter and Dr Carolyn Hunter


After completing my undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of York, I spent several years working, primarily in IT recruitment. It was here that I became interested in issues of bias in, and access to, the IT industry, and returned to York in 2012 to complete my MA in Management. I received the departmental award for the Best Masters Mark for the 2012/13 Management MA cohort. During this time I applied for, and won, an ESRC-funded departmental studentship for a PhD in Management, which I commenced in 2013.

My PhD research is looking at the UK’s high tech startup industry. Utilising Communities of Practice theory, I am interested in the question of who gets to be a startup founder. My research involves an ethnographic study of a community of startup founders in the North of the UK, and examines how becoming a startup founder is a communal process, and what dynamics drive inclusion to, and exclusion from, this community. My primary research interests are entrepreneurship, communities of practice, learning, and gender.

During my PhD I undertook the York Learning and Teaching Award; a Masters level course designed to support students in pedagogic theory and practice. As part of this I produced a 10,000 word learning and teaching portfolio; this received one of five “Outstanding” awards out of a cohort of fifty, and through this award I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I have also presented at several conferences; most recently the 2017 Critical Management Studies conference. 

Outside of my PhD I enjoy spending time with my family, running, and baking.