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Feminist attributes and entrepreneurial identity

Barbara J. Orser (University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management, Ottawa, Canada)
Catherine Elliott (University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management, Ottawa, Canada)
Joanne Leck (University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management, Ottawa, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




The purpose of this study is to examine how feminist attributes are expressed within entrepreneurial identity.


The study employed a purposive sampling technique to recruit 15 self‐identified “feminist entrepreneurs”. This included retailers, manufacturers, exploration operators, consultants, and professionals. Qualitative data were subject to content analysis.


Contrary to a feminine archetype portrayed as caring and nurturing, respondents do not describe themselves as typically portrayed in the feminist literature. Prevalent themes included participative leadership, action‐oriented, and creative thinker/or problem solver.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers should use caution in assuming feminist discourse has direct application to characterizing or stereotyping “feminist” entrepreneurs. The applicability and reliability of “off the shelf” psychometrics to describe contemporary gender roles across the myriads of processes associated with venture creation must also be questioned. Limitations: the purposive and small‐sample limits the generalizability of findings to the diverse community of female entrepreneurs. Testing of the applicability, validity, and reliability of the nomenclature used to describe self‐identity is warranted across international samples of feminist entrepreneurs.

Practical implications

The current study provides an inventory of feminist entrepreneurs' self‐described leadership attributes. The nomenclature can be used by women‐focused trainers to help clients to recognize their entrepreneurial attributes.

Social implications

The study may assist women in recognizing identity synergies and conflicts (e.g. within themselves and among family, employees, clients, etc.).


This is the first study that documents feminist entrepreneurs' leadership attributes. As such, the work is a step in seeking to reconcile feminist theory and entrepreneurial practice.



Orser, B.J., Elliott, C. and Leck, J. (2011), "Feminist attributes and entrepreneurial identity", Gender in Management, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 561-589.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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