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Empowerment, Constraint, and the Entrepreneurial Self: A Study of White Women Entrepreneurs

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Discourses of entrepreneurship and research on women entrepreneurs have proliferated in the last two decades. This study argues that a particular conception of an entrepreneurial self underlies much literature on women entrepreneurs and their empowerment, and identifies several key assumptions of this entrepreneurial self. The study then assesses the motivations and experiences of several white women entrepreneurs in a northwestern state in the United States, finding that aspects of the entrepreneurial self are most evident in the reasons that women provide about why they became entrepreneurs. However, the experiences the women narrate reveal a more constraints-centered discourse, which features a particular interpretation of the frontier myth of the American West, and bears traces of an emergent, collective notion of empowerment. The authors explain such empowerment from critical and feminist perspectives, offering the concept of bounded empowerment as a lens through which to examine entrepreneurship and gender, and discussing its practical implications.
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Keywords: Discourse; Empowerment; Entrepreneurial Self; Entrepreneurship; Feminism; Frontier Myth; Gender; Intersectionality; Whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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