Muslim businesswomen doing boundary work: the negotiation of Islam, gender and ethnicity within entrepreneurial contexts

This article discusses how female entrepreneurs of Moroccan and Turkish origin in the Netherlands construct their ethnic, gender and entrepreneurial identities in relation to their Muslim identity. We contribute to theory development on the interrelationship of work identities with gender, ethnicity and religion through an intersectional analysis of these women’s gender and ethnic identities within their entrepreneurial contexts and in relation to their Muslim identity. We draw on four narratives to illustrate how the women interviewed perform creative boundary work at these hitherto under-researched intersections. Islam is employed as a boundary to let religious norms and values prevail over cultural ones and to make space for individualism, honour and entrepreneurship. Moreover, different individual religious identities are crafted to stretch the boundaries of what is allowed for female entrepreneurs in order to resist traditional, dogmatic interpretations of Islam. Our study contributes to studies on entrepreneurship by showing how these female entrepreneurs gain agency at the crossroads of gender, ethnicity and religion.

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