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International Handbook of Women and Small Business Entrepreneurship

Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson

The number of women entering small business ownership has increased significantly across the world in recent years. These women make a crucial contribution to the economic growth and development of local, national and global economies. Yet, despite their increasing numbers, they have received comparatively little attention from the academic community. This comprehensive and coherent book redresses the balance and provides an up-to-date, theoretical review of this important area of study. A distinguished group of international contributors presents the latest work from the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, India and Singapore, which explores practical initiatives and strategies related to the experiences of women entering small business entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 18: Past Journeys: Global Lessons Learned from Entrepreneurial Women in US History

Jeannette Oppedisano


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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