.....entrepreneur one must endure multiple hardships. These hardships define people as leaders or failures. Women in the last few decades have amidst gender inequality, started businesses. This had led to a major growth in the number of women entrepreneurs in a predominantly male-dominated area. However, while women entrepreneurship has written, the persistent inequalities and continued views of women have led to the assumption that entrepreneurship may still be gendered. Meaning, society views only men as the main bread winners and capable of being effective leaders that entrepreneurs are defined as. This paper supports this assumption and will provide evidence of gendered entrepreneurship as well as literature that goes against such notion, demonstrating the potential for the gender gap to narrow in the future.To first understand the potential of gendered entrepreneurship, one must first define it. Gendered entrepreneurship is a hypothesis considering entrepreneurship to have gendered patterns. The UK was the first to provide gender-specific statistics that demonstrated both gender orders and gender systems exist in all spheres, including the third sector (Lundstrom, 2013, p. 287). While the information provided may not dictate how people within the business world feel about women entrepreneurs, it does reveal certain patterns. For instance, women across the globe are paid less than men (Lundstrom, 2013). The wage gap has not leveled even in countries like the United States and England.
Further exploring the meaning behind gendered entrepreneurship, one must look at how women see entrepreneurship. A 2006 article by Lewis, suggests women entrepreneurs have the tendency to see entrepreneurship as gender-neutral while also seeing entrepreneurship as part of the masculine norm. "By considering the way in which some women business owners not only treat entrepreneurship as gender-neutral, but also seek to conceal its gendered nature, we can see how some women entrepreneurs are trying to avoid being identified as different from the masculine norm of entrepreneurship" (Lewis, 2006, p. 453). This appears conflicting. If women entrepreneurs saw entrepreneurship as gender-neutral, why do they attempt to keep others from seeing them deviate from the masculine norm?
There could be several reasons for this. The first reason is businesses have been run by men for many years. It was not until recently that world has witnessed women leaders in business, politics and other male-dominated areas. With no real basis to draw upon, women entrepreneurs must use already available information and then merge this data with knowledge of the differences they experience and witness daily. Lewis explains this merging of information in a 2013 article on entrepreneurial identity.
Drawing on Charme's notion of existential authenticity, which places an emphasis on the cultural, historical, political, economic and physical limits to being 'true to oneself', the article shows how the situated nature of women's search for an authentically driven entrepreneurial identity means that they draw on a feminised discourse of difference and a contrasting masculine discourse of professionalism in their identity construction labours (Lewis, 2013, p. 252).
Essentially, Lewis states women attempt to unite their awareness of gender differences with the accepted norm of a business ideal that leans towards masculinity to create and assume their own entrepreneurial identity.
Entrepreneurial identity remains an important aspect of being an entrepreneur. It is not simply becoming a leader, or assuming responsibility. An entrepreneur must think a certain way, behave a certain way, be a certain way. Unfortunately, because women entrepreneurs are a recent breakthrough, women can only base their ideas of what an entrepreneur is from men. How is that not engendered entrepreneurship? It appears women must learn to be like men if they are to gain a firm understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Of course, as the future comes and more women take on the role of entrepreneur, future generations of potential women entrepreneurs will look towards these role models and develop their entrepreneurial identity. Whether that identity includes archaic masculine architypes is left in the air. However, in the present, that women entrepreneurial foundation is not yet there and so women wishing to dive into the business world must do so with the information and role models provided by this period's societies and cultures. As explained earlier, today's society has move progressively towards gender equality, but has done so at a slow rate.
What does this mean, 'slow rate'? Women do not get paid as much as men. Their...
"What is consistently shown, however, is that women's businesses are smaller than men's are, they are less profitable and they do not grow as rapidly. Whatever we call masculine or feminine is something of our own making" (Jonson Ahl, 2005, p. 54-55). While research shows male and women entrepreneurs perform relatively the same, the image of the woman being feminine and therefore weak, is still there.
Society still views women as the weaker sex and therefore the less capable. Women are still mistreated and seen as objects rather than people. Not all men view women in this regard, but some do. Often men in power regard women as objects because they have the money and power to buy women's sexuality. These are the men that control and influence the work environment for women. If they still have negative beliefs concerning women in the workplace, how has progress truly been reached to a level where prejudices are non-existant?
Women must contend with a millennium or more of society dictating what is feminine and masculine, and who is feminine and masculine. This leads to the assumption that women entrepreneurs cannot perform as well as male entrepreneurs or that they need assistance. By literature pointing towards women entrepreneurs not having the same level of success as male entrepreneurs even if they perform roughly the same, it seems to reinforce this notion of weakness and fragility in women entrepreneurs. While this is not the case, it certainly appears that way because of the lack of established foundation for women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs do not have the connections, the funding, nor the family birthright males do when it comes to establishing a business. They must do so (typically) on their own. That is not to say women entrepreneurs are not receiving the kind of perks and assistance male entrepreneurs have been having for years through family money and inheritance. They are and as recent news articles note, millennial women entrepreneurs are making more than the women before them.
This presents a potential counterargument. Women now, in the last few years, have emerged as successful entrepreneurs, more so than men, and more so than the women business leaders before them. "Millennial women also reported even higher revenues than their already-above-average gender group for the coming year: for women, revenues were 9% above the overall average, and for women "millennipreneurs," it was 22%" (Petrilla, 2016). Millennial women are the new face of the women entrepreneur. One who can generate high profits, expand their business globally, and create a vision of leadership that is both effective and uniquely their own. They may point to an inevitable change in how society perceive women in business.
Still women are not quite there yet. With cultural norms reflecting a sexist society across the globe, there is a long wait before women are seen as equal universally and especially in the business world. No matter how much progress women make now, it will take decades for this progress to translate to equality and perception of equality. The article by Petrilla mentions three key areas women entrepreneurs excel in: "According to the report, women entrepreneurs are making most of their money in three sectors: retail; professional services such as consulting, accounting or law; and fashion" (Petrilla, 2016). Two of these areas, retail and fashion are women dominated areas due to shopping practices of women versus men. For equality to truly emerge, women entrepreneurs must excel in more areas, especially presently male-dominated areas.
A decade ago, Ahl wrote a research article explaining the results of research in women entrepreneurship. The researcher discovered despite "intentions to the contrary and in spite of inconclusive research results, a tendency to recreate the idea of women as being secondary to men and of women's businesses being of less significance or, at best, as being a complement" (Ahl, 2006, p. 595). When comparing it to a recent 2016 article of the same topic, the field of women entrepreneurship is still at an adolescent stage, suggesting a long way to go concerning research on how women function as entrepreneurs and their abilities to succeed in this area of business. This could be because of a positive paradigm means of research that must be replaced by more innovative methods via use of a constructionist approach (Yadav and Unni, 2016). Such a change in research methodology may yield clearer results.
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