What We Know and What We Need to Know
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Edited by Alain Fayolle
Chapter 6: Exploring the intersection of gender, feminism and entrepreneurship
Despite early work by Schwartz in 1976, the discrete field of 'female entrepreneurship' did not emerge as an identifiable and coherent theme within the broader analysis of entrepreneurial activity until the early 1990s (Carter et al., 2012). Since then, there has been a notable and continuing expansion in the extant literature on women's experiences of entrepreneurship, with a recent review of the field identifying over 700 related papers within a broad range of academic journals and other media (Neergaard et al., 2011). Thus, exploring the influence of gender on entrepreneurial intentions, experiences and ambitions has been an enduring theme within entrepreneurial theorizing for over 20 years but still offers considerable scope for theoretical and empirical development (Blackburn and Kovalainen, 2009). Within this chapter we offer a brief overview of how this literature has developed, and critically evaluate progress through the adoption of a feminist analytical lens. Accordingly, we commence our chapter with a commentary on early analyses of female entrepreneurship, which largely adopted the 'gender as a variable' approach (Neergaard et al., 2011). As such, the gender binary was uncritically adopted whereby women were singled out as a separate group from normative (i.e. male) entrepreneurs with the characteristics and performance profiles of their firms compared to those of their male colleagues. This particular research agenda and discourse tended to define women in terms of 'deficit' and 'lack' (Ahl and Marlow, 2011).
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