Belonging and women entrepreneurs: Women’s navigation of gendered assumptions in entrepreneurial practice

This article is novel in proposing belonging as a mediatory and explanatory concept to better understand the relationship between women entrepreneurs and socially embedded gendered assumptions in entrepreneurial practice. Drawing on social theories of belonging and extant entrepreneurial literature, the article explores what belonging involves for women in the entrepreneurial context to offer a conceptualisation of entrepreneurial belonging as relational, dynamic, gendered and in continual accomplishment. Five forms of women’s performing of belonging are identified: by proxy, concealment, modelling the norm, tempered disruption and identity-switching. Illustrating how women both reinforce and challenge gendered norms through strategic and tempered use of legitimacy practices and identity work, these findings also highlight the significance of socio-cultural and political knowledge in efforts to belong.

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