Woman’s entrepreneurship as a gendered niche: The implications for regional development policy

Richard Harrison, Claire M Leitch, Maura McAdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we argue that entrepreneurship is a socio-spatial embedded activity and that the social construction of gender, time, space, economy and culture is manifest in the masculinities that are ascribed a normative role in entrepreneurship development policies. Drawing on feminist approaches to articulate and perform resistance to the hegemonic ‘masculinist’ discourses on entrepreneurship, we argue that women’s entrepreneurship is contextually embedded in institutional and social structures that both limit and provide opportunities for its enactment. Regional economic development policy has focused, inter alia, on stimulating and supporting women’s entrepreneurship through the establishment of women-only entrepreneurial networks to provide support, role models and access to resources. Grounded in feminist geography and based on a detailed qualitative study of network managers and members of formally established women-only networks, we provide evidence of the disconnect between the emancipatory intent and the actual impact of these initiatives. While these networks aim to empower and encourage women into entrepreneurship, in practice, they perpetuate women’s marginalisation and ghettoisation in gendered niches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1067
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Volume20
Issue number4
Early online date17 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • women’s entrepreneurship
  • niche theory
  • gendered niches
  • women-only networks
  • regional entrepreneurship policy
  • feminist geography

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