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Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson
Chapter 18: Past Journeys: Global Lessons Learned from Entrepreneurial Women in US History
Jeannette Oppedisano Introduction Very often the consideration of entering the entrepreneurial ‘road less travelled’ is daunting to women. Their inner voices conjure up images of exhaustion, bankruptcy, family conﬂict, and social isolation. They worry that they don’t have ‘what it takes’ – whether that’s ﬁnancial acumen, strategic planning skills, or physical and emotional strength to carry out such a venture no matter how small that ﬁrst business dream might be. This is why there is a critical need to highlight the role models who have ‘been there, done that’. Women have been entrepreneurial throughout the past three centuries in the United States in spite of having had no legal rights, having no voice in government, and being considered the property of their fathers or husbands; in spite of having been sold into servitude or enslaved, or of being brutalized. Women have been entrepreneurial whether they were married, single, divorced – with children or without. These women were from all races, socio-economic strata, and educational backgrounds. In addition, once they became successful, they were traditionally generous in their support of others, particularly women and children. And, surprisingly, they lived much longer lives than the expectancy for their generations. So who are they, what did they do, and what can we learn from them? In this chapter, after sharing some historical stories of relevant US role models, a broad-based action platform of key components for changing societal value systems will be suggested, for if women are to have their legitimate inﬂuence on...
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