Feminist theory of entrepreneurship

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Feminist theory of entrepreneurship

How can feminist theory enlighten us about entrepreneurship?

For the most part, women entrepreneurs are in the minority, and they are less likely to be funded by venture capitalists. This naturally leads to criticism of the old boys club in venture capital investment that tends to invest less in women led ventures.

Much of the feminist literature that discusses entrepreneurship tends to look at differences between entrepreneurial entry rates and opportunities for women entrepreneurs as well as the systems and structures that cause the disparities between men and women.

Hurley (1999):

Traditional anthropological theories stated that the key factor in human evolution was the male’s hunting activities. The men developed the important social skills of  communication, co-operation and tool making, while women contributed little…Feminist theories showed that women’s activities were the key factors in human evolution. The activities of gathering, childbearing, and childrearing developed the social skills of co-operation, sharing, and tool making.

Most feminist approaches advocate for equal or even greater rights for women given their unequal position in society. Greer and Green (2003) propose that different streams of feminist theory have different implications for entrepreneurs.

  • The liberal feminist approach views men and women as equals, which critics say undermines women in their special roles as mothers.
  • The Marxist feminist approach views parenting as a forms of productive but unpaid labor that affect entrepreneurial behaviors of women. It advocates for women coming out of the home to do productive work and for programs like maternity leave that should be mother-friendly.
  • The radical feminist perspective calls for men to be equally involved in parenting. They also propose separatist measures such as programs dedicated and tailored to women entrepreneurs given their unique biology and related life experiences.

Another take, which is sometimes called a positive approach is to see that entrepreneurship is a means to overcome inequality, it can be used to advance women’s rights (Hurley, 1999). Women entrepreneurs bring themselves out of disadvantage, but also face unique challenges.

Sources:

Hurley, A. E. (1999). Incorporating feminist theories into sociological theories of entrepreneurship. Women in Management Review, 14(2), 54-62.

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