The ‘No Choice’ option: A contextual analysis of the role of entrepreneurship in reinforcing the oppression of women in patriarchal societies

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The field of women entrepreneurship has been dominated primarily by a purely market-based and ‘individualist phenomenon’ orientation, adopting a gendered approach to understand the characteristics, differences and challenges/ barriers. Indeed, whereas entrepreneurship offers prospects for economic development and freedom for women, its impacts are generally over-represented in influential spheres, be it in political, economic, cultural or family domains. While women have privileges, in some contexts, these privileges are embodied in their domination which is reproduced in many ways, beyond strictly economic, legal or political means. The domination is also embedded in stereotypes, religions, culture and traditions. Therefore, there is need for a shift from the focus on entrepreneurship as a “desirable” economic activity and transpose this positive side with the negative. Scholars therefore advocate for other perspectives that illuminate the different entrepreneurial features including the negative effects associated with entrepreneurship such as its oppressive and psychological impact on women in various cultural / religious contexts. Only looking at the socio-economic dynamics inherent to women entrepreneurship obscures any understanding of patriarchy and the binary division between men and women. Consequently, other oppressions and subjugations are concealed eroding the notion of emancipation and freedom that entrepreneurship projects. This socially constructed phenomenon highlights the importance of understanding the role of culture in women’s entrepreneurial journeys. Inspired by this relatedness, this paper explores the no ‘option / choice’ dynamics of entrepreneurship in the African patriarchal context where there is increasing participation of women in entrepreneurial activities. In this study, women entrepreneurship is analysed as a cultural / religious dilemma given the conflict arising from the perceived role of women and a culture of subjugation that forces women ‘to do as they are told’. It will explore the notion of ‘no choice’ option whereby women are compelled to become entrepreneurs in family-owned businesses (often unpaid) or as a means of keeping them away from mainstream employment/ career so that interactions with the opposite sex especially within the context of patriarchy and the African society are kept to the barest minimum. This research aims to answer the following research questions: Is entrepreneurship reinforcing the oppression of women in patriarchal contexts?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2021
EventGender, Work & Organization : 11th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference - Kent Business School, Kent, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 20212 Jul 2021
Conference number: 11


ConferenceGender, Work & Organization
Abbreviated titleGWO2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • No choice
  • Patriarchy
  • Choice intensions
  • Women Entrepreneurs
  • Neoliberalism


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