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Kadın / Woman 2000

Yıl 2007 , Cilt 8 , Sayı 2

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Perceived nature and impact of gendered norms: the french female business owners’ labour of gender and norms

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Paris Ticaret Ve Sanayi Odası1
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Gender is a performance that can be actualized either as a norm or as a catalyst for the change of norms (Butler, 1990). Thus, gender framework is the result of individuals’ perceptions of its (normative) nature and its possible impact onto other norms. In that context, female business-owners are a very interesting population to study because they are deeply engaged in the management of norms in their entrepreneurial activities. Many studies stress that, similarly in their day-to-day initiatives and their outstanding performances, female entrepreneurs are explicitly and implicitly obliged to comply with masculine norms (Collinson & Hearn, 1996; Lewis, 2006). However, they examine neither female entrepreneurs’ perception of their control over norms nor their perception of themselves and others when they demonstrate their power and authority in their firms. Thus, they downsize female entrepreneurs’ effective labour of gender and norms. The present study examines how female business owners’ perceptions of themselves and others in different contexts of authority may result in challenging the perception of the gendered norm and the normative framework. The population studied was a homogeneous group of sixty French female small business owners in the service sector, operating in France. The present study is a qualitative study carried out in two phases: a set of group interviews that examines the participants’ perception of the nature of gendered norms and a set of individual interviews that examines how the participants perceive the effects of gendered norms in their own experience. The results of the study reveal that, for female business-owners, their approach to gendered norms contains two types of tensions: · A first type of tension that explores the nature of gendered norms that may appear either fixed when they address their employees or mutable when they describe themselves or address their peers · A second type of tension that explores the impact of gendered norms that may be either a source of normative immobility – especially in the professional environment -- or a source of normative transformation – when they analyze their entrepreneurial trajectory

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