The Case for Women case writing competition

In partnership with The Case for Women, Forté, and MBA Roundtable, this case study competition focuses on the female case protagonist.

Closed for entries

Women in case studies

The aim of this competition is to encourage and promote the development of high-quality teaching case material that positively represents real women in leadership positions in the workplace.

Having 10 years of research on award-winning case papers, Lesley Symons of The Case for Women showed that women protagonists are present in only 11% of award-winning case papers. She developed the Symons Test which is used to assess the presence of women in case papers:

  1. Does it have a woman in it?
  2. Is she the protagonist?
  3. Does she speak to another woman about the business?

Only 4% of the case papers researched met all three of the rules. 

More about Lesley's research


The award

The total prize fund for the collection is $12,000. Prizes are awarded to the overall winner and three runners-up.

Key criteria

Judging criteria

  • Cases should have a female protagonist
  • Her characteristics as a leader should be described in a positive way
  • There should be a general balance of genders across the characters in the paper. (This does not need to be precise although an approximate range of between 60:40 either way is considered balanced)
  • The female protagonist should speak to another woman about the business
  • Authors are asked to include the pronouns of each person, male and female, after they are introduced within the case for the first time. For example "Susan Wojcicki (she) faced a difficult decision."
  • Ideally, the industry or setting of the case should not fall into one of the "Four F" categories: food, family, fashion and furniture. This is not a mandatory requirement.

Submission criteria

  • All cases should be teaching cases based on a real situation in a real company, with a clear decision-making situation, and prepared in accordance with case writing guidelines provided in the instructional materials
  • Case studies submitted should not have been published before in their current or substantially similar form or be under consideration for publication in any ISSN/ ISBN-registered publication or with any other case centre
  • All cases which are submitted to the judging panel will be published in our eCase Collection. By participating in the competition, you are automatically agreeing to have your case study published in the collection on an exclusive license.
  • All case studies must be accompanied by a consent to publish release form, which has been completed and signed by the management of the company or individuals included in the case
  • All cases must be accompanied by a teaching note which must include:
    • a summary of the case
    • the teaching objectives and target audience
    • a suggested teaching approach and strategy
    • a discussion on the implication of gender issues and leadership in the case
    • additional readings or references
    • feedback on how the case worked in the classroom.

Submission deadline

Competition now closed.

Develop your skills and knowledge

Sign in or register on the Emerald Cases Hub, where you can complete a course on writing a case study and teaching note, and download our handy how-to guides.

Can I submit as part of a team or as a single author?

It can be either, we have no limits on who can submit, it can be a group of authors or a single author.

Are there restrictions on the gender ratio of the authors?

No, we have no restrictions as to who can submit in terms of their gender.

Where will the case be published?

The case will be published by Emerald in a collection called "The case for women" in our eCase collection. Find out more information.

Can the female protagonist be part of a team where there are also men?

Yes absolutely. We just don't want the case to focus on a single woman surrounded by exclusively male characters. The author guidelines ask for a roughly even split between genders of named characters in the case, and that the female protagonist must speak to another woman in the case about the business.

Who needs to complete the case study consent form?

If primary research has been carried out, the consent form needs to be signed by a director or member of HR at the organisation where the research was undertaken.

What if I can't get case study consent?

We can allow cases to be disguised in some circumstances, but only when this is the only option, and only if the case follows real events that are disguised, not made up. Cases based on secondary data do not require case study consent and so these would not need to be anonymised.

Can I submit a case study that’s on my institution's repository?

If the case is only on your institution's website, not published elsewhere, and doesn’t have an ISSN registered to it, you are welcome to submit this to the competition.

Can the case study be about a woman facing a specific business dilemma that’s not directly related to gender?

The paper doesn't need to focus on a dilemma related to gender, it can be any business dilemma. However, the teaching note should include a discussion around gender issues in the case.

Can the female protagonist be part of a family business?

Ideally, the cases should not focus on the 4F industries "food, fashion, family, and furniture", as this is where we typically see more female protagonists, but this is not a requirement.

Can I see a sample case?

A sample case is available on the Emerald Cases Hub. To access this case, simply register a free account and select 'useful resources' in the library. Under sample cases and teaching notes, you will then see the CFW case Navigating EtonHouse through Crises, which won the competition in 2020. There are also a number of other sample cases from other publications which might be useful, as well as resources on writing cases and teaching notes.

First place: Poppy Gustafsson: Redefining Cybersecurity through AI
Syeda Qumer and Syeda Ikrama
ICFAI Business School, India

Second place: Mitti Cafe: Enabling Disability Inclusion in India through Scalable Business Model
Amy Moore and Tracey Toefy,
University of Pretoria Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa

Third place: Katerina Kimmorley and Pollinate Group: Eradicating Energy Poverty by Empowering Women through Solar Energy
Hadiya Faheem and Sanjib Dutta
ICFAI Business School, India

Fourth place: Choosing Between Diversity, Employee Safety and Business Continuity
Shreshthi Mehta
Northeastern University, USA

Get in touch

If you have any questions about the case study competition, please contact

Melissa Close, our cases publisher

Email Melissa

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