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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 19: Women’s Entrepreneurship: Exploring New Avenues

Kiran Mirchandani


Kiran Mirchandani Introduction This Handbook forms part of a rich and diverse literature on women’s entrepreneurship which has developed over the past decades and the present chapter represents an attempt to suggest new directions worthy of further attention. It highlights the differences between women’s ‘entrepreneurship’ and women’s ‘self-employment’; exploring the overlaps and distinctions between the use of these terms and suggests the usefulness of integrating analyses of class in studies of entrepreneurship. The ‘woman entrepreneur’ has conventionally been conceptualized as an individual who possesses a number of traits. However, drawing on feminist anti-racist theory, the author suggests that entrepreneurship can be better understood through an analysis of the social location of individuals vis à vis the environments within which they set up businesses. These social and economic environments structure the transformative potential of women’s entrepreneurship. This chapter draws on interviews conducted with a racially diverse group of self-employed women in Canada (see Mirchandani, 2002, 2003 for a full description of this study). Twin solitudes: Self-employment and entrepreneurship In much of the writing on entrepreneurship to date there has been a slippage in the language and terminology used to refer to the entrepreneur. In the author’s own previous work, for example (Mirchandani, 1999), the terms ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘selfemployment’ are used largely synonymously. Similarly, Carr (1996) describes two theories of entrepreneurship – one whereby self-employment is pursued by people with particular abilities, and second whereby self-employment is a default option for those excluded from salaried employment (see also Simpson, 1991; Green and Cohen,...

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