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Katarina Pettersson

Katarina Pettersson
PhD, docent in Social and Economic geography. Researcher and Head of the Division of Rural Development.


I have a PhD, and am, docent in Social and Economic geography.

At the Division of Rural Development I work as researcher, and Head of division.


I contribute lectures at courses in our educations.


My research interests concern shifts in relation to Swedish farming, through farmers engaging in, developing new products, including care farming and farm tourism - and theoretical developments around feminist care ethics to understand people-place relationships. I am also pursuing critical entrepreneurship studies, which means critically inquiring entrepreneurship discourses and giving voice to 'Other' entrepreneurs (including women), whom have been subordinated and silenced in mainstream research and discourses on entrepreneurship. Related areas of interest are (women’s) rural entrepreneurship; EU rural policy and policy for women's entrepreneurship and how notions of gender are created within those policies; as well as understandings of sustainability.

I am participating in the EU Horizon Europe-project "GRASS Ceiling - Gender Equality in Rural and Agricultural Innovation Systems", funded under the program CL6-2022-COMMUNITIES-01-01: 101083408, 2023-2025. The project is led by Prof. Sally Shortall, South East Technological University, Ireland and Prof. Bettina Bock, Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Hela Sverige ska leva – Länsbygderådet Jönköpings län (Siv Lindén) andSLU (Katarina Pettersson as well as Flora Hajdu) are the Swedish partners in the project.

The project includes 25 partners in ten countries (England, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain and Sweden). The overall goals of the project are to: Create context for women to develop innovations that respond to various ecological and social challenges and thereby strengthen the resilience of rural areas to such challenges. Analyze gender-disaggregated statistics and the position of women in relation to trends in European agriculture and in the countryside. Investigate policy and support system for the development of the countryside and agriculture - by, among other things, identifying prerequisites and obstacles to development. Create meeting places for women and support organizations in nine living labs. Support women to develop themselves, their ideas and innovations in their agricultural and rural businesses through living labs. Research about norms around gender, as well as conditions and obstacles for women's ideas and innovations in these living labs. Research the living labs method itself. Analyze and compare policies to support agriculture and rural development between different EU countries and develop recommendations on the development of policy and support systems for different actors. Read more here: GRASS Ceiling

I am conducting research in the project Entrepreneurship as empowerment? Gendered opportunities and challanges in entrepreneurial urban and peri-urban agriculture in Rwanda, (2018-2022) funded by FORMAS, performed in collaboration with Johanna Bergman-Lodin, PhD-candidate Karolin Andersson. (Interview on the project.)

This project will develop our understanding of entrepreneurial urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Kigali, and how it is gendered. It will explore how and why women, men and youth engage as entrepreneurs in UPA, which gendered and generational opportunities and challenges they face and how this influences their empowerment. The research will reflect on the policy and practice interventions needed to develop UPA and to integrate it into inclusive urban planning activities. Data will be collected through qualitative interviews and participatory observations with urban farmers and stakeholders involved in entrepreneurial UPA.

The project is aligned to contribute to the following SDGs: sustainable cities and communities (11); gender equality (5); zero hunger (2); and reduced inequalities (10). It is also a timely response to calls within agricultural research, gender studies, urban planning and organizational research to broaden empirical and theoretical rigor on gender in African UPA. The project will address the more specifically identified needs to research UPA in its entrepreneurial forms and from a feminist perspective. By considering it as a deliberate accumulation strategy pursued by UPA entrepreneurs, it will also complement, broaden, and challenge dominant understandings of UPA as solely a subsistence strategy pursued by the poor.

I am conducting research in the EU Horizon 2020-project SteamBioAfrica (Innovative Large-Scale Production of Affordable Clean Burning Solid Biofuel and Water in Southern Africa: transforming bush encroachment from a problem into a secure and sustainable energy source) (2021-2024). I work in a larger research group at SLU and collaborate with research groups at other European and African institutions as well as with companies engaged in the biomass and bioenergy sector. More specifically I am part of a team responsible for integrating gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in the project. In SteamBioAfrica we will convert invasive bush into clean burning biofuel, water and chemicals through superheated steam processing. This way SteamBioAfrica will enable the production and marketing of clean, secure, and affordable energy as well as create jobs related to this new biofuel value chain in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It addresses multiple challenges facing Southern Africa such as climate change impacts, resource inefficiency, unsustainably produced fuel, smoke- and air pollutant induced disease, unemployment and poverty. Read more here: SteamBioAfrica

The project Women's Entrepreneruship for a living countryside (2017-20), was funded by the Kamprad research foundation, and led by Helene Ahl, Jönköping university and which consisted of a collaboration within the reseach group EMBLA, read more here: Embla research. The project had a threefold purpose: 1) to develop the necessary knowledge about women's entrepreneurship in rural areas as a basis for stimulating rural development, 2) to develop interactive research adapted for the development of women's entrepreneurship in rural areas, and 3) to utilize the project results for a variety of relevant target groups. Some of the results are summarized in the short film Women entrepreneurs for a vibrant countryside.

The project 'Green care' on farms in Sweden - A gender perspective on entrepreneurship in a changed welfare state (2017-19), was funded by Forte and performed together with Malin Tillmar, Linnaeus University. An interesting and growing phenomenon at the intersection of an altered welfare state and women's entrepreneurship on farms is “green care” – which we study in the project. We took as our point of departure the established definition of green care as: the use of animals, plants, gardens, forests and farm landscapes in order to promote mental and physical health and quality of life for various clients. By studying green care in this project it is possible for us to both understand how gender organizes work and to critically examine the welfare sector reorganization and its consequences for people on farms and in rural areas. The aim of the project was to increase the knowledge on green care entrepreneurship on farms in Sweden in a gender perspective.

In the project Keys for a living countryside, (2017-20) led by Johan Gaddefors, the Department of Economy, funded by the Kamprad research foundation, the aim of our research was to develop new knowledge on the interaction between different forms of entrepreneurship and context. Some of the project's results were: to work with the local population, advisers and officials, and students develop and operate about 30 projects in rural areas.



I supervise students at undergraduate level, as well as PhD-students: Malin Bäckman, PhD-student (environmental science) working on sustainability in relation to urban residents. Karolin Andersson, PhD-student (rural development) in the project Entrepreneurship as empowerment? Gendered opportunities and challanges in entrepreneurial urban and peri-urban agriculture in Rwanda, (2018-2023). 

I supervised PhD Mesia Ilomo, University of Dar es Salaam (Business administration, 2022) within the capacity building project Engendering Agribusiness Entrepreneurship (ENGAGE) in Tanzania. I was the co-supervisor of PhD Annie Roos at the Department of Economy, SLU (Business administration, 2021), and licentiate Ylva Saarinen (Social and economic geography, 2006).

Selected publications

2024      Roos, Annie and Pettersson, Katarina, Forging an Entrepreneur – Gendered Ideas and Ideals, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, DOI 10.1108/IJGE-04-2023-0107.

2024      Bäckman, Malin, Pettersson, Katarina and Westberg, Lotten, Interrogating an unjust urban sustainability discourse and introducing alternative perspectives, Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.

2023      Ahl, Helene, Tillmar, Malin, Berglund, Karin and Pettersson, Katarina Entrepreneurship and rural development policy: Responses from women entrepreneurs in rural Sweden, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research.

2023      EMBLA (Berglund, Karin; Ahl, Helene, Pettersson, Katarina, and Tillmar, Malin), Genusperspektiv på entreprenörskap – Från kvinnors företagande till feministisk aktivism, Organisation & Samhälle.

2023      Ahl, H., Tillmar, M, Berglund, H. & Pettersson, K. Entrepreneurship as a losing proposition for women: gendered outcomes of neo-liberal entrepreneurship policy in a Nordic welfare state. In Henry, C., Coleman, S., Lewis, K. (Eds.) Women’s Entrepreneurship Policy: A global perspective Edward Elgar (p. 75-102). 

2022      Pettersson, Katarina and Tillmar, Malin, Working from the Heart – Cultivating Feminist Care Ethics through Care Farming in Sweden, Gender, Place and Culture.

2022      Andersson, Karolin, Pettersson, Katarina and Bergman Lodin, Johanna, Window dressing inequalities and constructing women farmers as problematic—gender in Rwanda’s agriculture policy, Agriculture and Human Values, 10.1007/s10460-022-10314-5.

2021    Berglund, Karin and Pettersson, Katarina, 'Innovation beyond borders – On alternative feminist discourses of innovation', Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 5 (2), 22.

2021    Illomo, Mesia, Kinunda Rutashobya, Lettice, Ishengoma, Esther, Pettersson, Katarina, Bergman Lodin, Johanna, ‘Doing and undoing gender in rice business and marketplaces in Tanzania’, Cogent Social Sciences, 7.

2021    Tillmar, Malin, Ahl, Helene, Berglund, Karin, and Pettersson, Katarina, 'The gendered effects of entrepreneurialism in contrasting contexts', Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy.

2021     Tillmar, Malin, Ahl, Helene, Berglund, Karin, and Pettersson, Katarina, 'Neo-liberalism translated into preconditions for women entrepreneurs - two contrasting cases, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy.

2020      Pettersson, Katarina, Vidgade vyer visar verksamheter – Kritiska studier av entreprenörskap på landsbygder, s. 199-218, i Stenbacka S & Heldt Cassel S (red) Periferi som process - YMER 2020, Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi.

2019      Pettersson, Katarina och Tillmar, Malin, Att jobba med hjärtat – En studie av grön omsorg ur genus- och entreprenörskapsperspektiv, SLU Framtidens djur, natur och hälsa Rapport nr 3, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet: Uppsala.

2018      Berglund, Karin, Ahl, Helene, Pettersson, Katarina and Tillmar, Malin, Women’s entrepreneurship, neoliberalism and economic justice in the postfeminist era: A discourse analysis of policy change in Sweden, Gender, Work and Organization, Vol. 25, p. 531–556.

2018      Sköld, Birgitta, Tillmar, Malin, Ahl, Helene, Berglund, Karin & Pettersson, Katarina, Kvinnors företagande i landsbygdskommuner med fokus på Småland och Öland – En kvantitativ kartläggning inom ramen för forskningsprojektet ”Kvinnors företagande för en levande landsbygd”, HELIX Rapport 18:001, HELIX Competence Centre, Linköping.

2017     Pettersson, Katarina, Ahl, Helene, Berglund, Karin and Tillmar, Malin, In the name of women? Feminist readings of policies for women’s entrepreneurship in Scandinavia, Scandinavian Journal of Management, 33, p. 50-63.

2017      Berglund, Karin, Ahl, Helene and Pettersson, Katarina. Tales of Heroine Entrepreneurs. In Henry, C, Nelson, T & Lewis, K Routledge Companion to Global Female Entrepreneurship, p. 282-298, Routledge.

2016      Ahl, Helene, Berglund, Karin, Pettersson, Katarina and Tillmar, Malin, From feminism to FemInc.ism: On the uneasy relationship between feminism, entrepreneurship and the Nordic welfare state, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal,  12(2), p. 369-392.

2015      Heldt-Cassel, Susanna and Pettersson, Katarina, Performing Gender and Rurality in Swedish Farm Tourism, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, Vol. 15, Nos. 1–2, p. 138–151.

2015      Pettersson, Katarina, Två steg fram och ett tillbaka? En genusanalys av policy för kvinnors företagande i Norden, Info 0596, Stockholm: Tillväxtverket.

2014      Pettersson, Katarina and Heldt-Cassel, Susanna, Women tourism entrepreneurs – Doing gender on farms in Sweden, special issue Power Shifts: Women as entrepreneurs, leaders and managers in the global context, Gender in Management: An International Journal, Vol. 29, No. 8, p. 487-504.

2013      Pettersson, Katarina and Lindberg, Malin, Paradoxical spaces of feminist resistance - Mapping the margin to the masculinist innovation discourse, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Special issue Gender perspectives on innovation, Vol. 5, No. 3, 323-341.

2012      Pettersson, Katarina, Support for Women’s Entrepreneurship – A Nordic Spectrum, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 4-19. Utvald som ”Highly Commended Award Winner” av Literati Network Awards 2013 (

2012      Hedberg, Charlotta and Pettersson, Katarina, Disadvantage, Ethnic Niching or Pursuit of a Vision? Motives of Immigrant Women Care Entrepreneurs in the Ageing Swedish Society, Journal of International Migration and Integration, Volume 13, Issue 4, 423-440.

2012      Pettersson, Katarina (ed.), Supporting Women’s Entrepreneurship in Nordic Sparsely Populated Areas, Nordregio Working Paper 2012:1, Nordregio, Stockholm.

2009      Pettersson, Katarina and Arora-Jonsson, Seema (för Lantbrukarnas Riksförbunds Jämställdhetsakademi), 2009, Den osynliga entreprenören – Genus och företagande i de gröna näringarna.

2008      Pettersson, Katarina, ’Många bäckar små…’ Jämställdhet och ekonomisk tillväxt i regionalpolitiken, 137-158, i Andersson, Frida, Ek, Richard & Molina, Irene (red.), Regionalpolitikens geografi – Regional tillväxt i teori och praktik, Studentlitteratur, Lund.

2007      Pettersson, Katarina, Men and Male as the Norm? A Gender Perspective on Innovation Policies in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, Nordic Research Programme 2005-2008: Internationalisation of regional development policies – Needs and Demands in the Nordic countries. Report 3.

2004      Pettersson, Katarina, Masculine Entrepreneurship – The Gnosjö Discourse in a Feminist Perspective, 177-193, in Hjorth, Daniel & Steyaert, Chris, Narrative and Discursive Approaches in Entrepreneurship, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

2002      Pettersson, Katarina, Företagande män och osynliggjorda kvinnor – Diskursen om Gnosjö ur ett könsperspektiv, Geografiska regionstudier, nr. 49, Kulturgeografiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet.


Researcher at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Rural Development
Telephone: +4618671425, +46732290541
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala