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Understanding women's performance of entrepreneurship in the Sri Lankan context

Pathiranage Padmali Manesha Peiris (University of Sunderland in London, London, UK)
Ahu Tatli (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)
Mustafa Bilgehan Ozturk (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 25 October 2023




The aim of this study is to explore how women in Sri Lanka cultivate entrepreneurial personae to navigate the various gendered roles they situationally enact, as they attempt to secure legitimacy and acceptance and overcome their otherness. Drawing on Goffman's theorisation of symbolic interaction, this study investigates how gender informs the performance of entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. In this way, the study engages with the challenges women in the Global South navigate while undertaking entrepreneurship, and it contributes to the critical entrepreneurship literature on the intertwined nature of gender and entrepreneurship.


Following feminist standpoint epistemology (FSE), this qualitative study focuses on women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka by examining the performance of entrepreneurship through 44 life history interviews (LHIs) and 40 Field Observations conducted over a seven-month period.


The findings reveal that women carefully cultivate entrepreneurial personae by striking a balance between entrepreneurial ideals and patriarchal social expectations around womanhood. The findings of the study present how the entrepreneurial personae are constructed by way of appearance, mannerism and setting, which presents opportunities for future research to explore the dramaturgical aspect of gender and entrepreneurship.


This study contributes to the growing body of feminist research surrounding women entrepreneurs, by drawing on insights from the lived experiences of women entrepreneurs in the Global South. This study also expands Goffman's theorisation of audience segregation and shows that a subject's understanding of the audience shapes their personae. A further contribution of this research is how space becomes an extension of the personae at play.



Peiris, P.P.M., Tatli, A. and Ozturk, M.B. (2023), "Understanding women's performance of entrepreneurship in the Sri Lankan context", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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