The treatment of gender issues in entrepreneurship and civil society generates contradictory feelings of discrimination and inequality centered around the dominance of the heroic male entrepreneur which crowds out alternative gendered stereotypes and role models. In literature and in practice, the stereotypical entrepreneur is assumed to be male, successful, and heterosexual, and to conform to a heroic social script enshrined in the classic entrepreneur story of overcoming obstacles and hardships. Gendered, ethnic, or class-based groupings that do not conform to this eulogized narrative are considered suspect. Yet, gender is a dual-sex construct including many positive entrepreneurial stereotypes and role models, such as “the Diva” and “the Matriarch,” among others, for women. These are role models that can be adopted and performed in opposition to the heroic entrepreneurial narrative. Building on the author’s published stream of work, this review demonstrates the power and utility of such alternative social constructs to shake up the established gendered social order as differing forms of gendered social capitals. Entrepreneurship is a life choice and identity position and there should be no gender-based barriers or obstructions to the construction of entrepreneurial careers—only differentiated, storied entrepreneurial identities which reposition the entrepreneurial narrative as non-gendered, complementary, and inclusive. Adopting differentiated entrepreneurial identities helps reconstruct an entrepreneurial identity that is representative of individualized circumstances.
The treatment of gender issues in entrepreneurship and civil society generates a myriad of contradictory feelings of discrimination and inequality centred around the dominance of the model of the heroic male entrepreneur which crowds out what can be described as alternative gendered stereotypes and role models (see Drakopoulou Dodd & Anderson, 2007; O’Shea, Redien-Collot & Nelson, 2020). It is evident from my readings of the literature that our perceptions of entrepreneurial identities are socially constructed and partially fixed. According to Raible and Williams-Middleton (2021) ‘relatable’ stereotypes plague the social cognition of the entrepreneurial construct and shape our assumptions of who can become an entrepreneur. Indeed, universally the entrepreneur is assumed to be male, successful and heterosexual, to conform to a heroic WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant) social script enshrined in the classic ‘storybook’ entrepreneur story of overcoming obstacles and hardships. As a result, any gendered or class-based grouping that does not conform to this eulogised narrative is considered to be suspect and negative in relation to the heroic construct. Yet, although it is undeniable that our cherished constructs are perhaps based on outdated near mythological stereotypical representations (as suggested by Reich, 1987) such representations persist. As a scholar of both entrepreneurship and gender I have a long-standing fascination with gendered representations of entrepreneurs…
- Making sense of entrepreneurial stereotypes
- Documenting my understanding of gendered entrepreneurial stereotypes
- The evolutionary nature of stereotypes
- Looking forward to gender equality in entrepreneurial stereotypes
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