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Biography & Abstract
Caroline Demeyére

Caroline is a Postdoctoral research fellow on the ‘Equality Diversity and Inclusion as a Moralized Market’ project at CBS. Her research focuses on organizing for sustainability through three interrelated avenues: multi stakeholder partnerships, entrepreneurship and civil society organizations.

'Not like other women': the role of the 'Exception' in reproducing gender inequality in entrepreneurship

'Entrepreneurship is promoted as a gender-equal pathway to women's emancipation. Such cultural discourses are problematic as they disavow structural barriers and historic gendered structures. Against this postfeminist view, research has unveiled the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and how the strategies employed by elite women entrepreneurs to trade off capitals sustain gender inequalities. However, limited attention has been given to successful women entrepreneurs from underprivileged backgrounds. Mobilizing a Bourdieusian theoretical framework, this research investigates how the discourse of the ‘Exception’ contributes to the reproduction of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. We draw on 28 biographical interviews with underprivileged women entrepreneurs in France who sustain their businesses. The findings reveal two mechanisms: i) turning the lack of capitals into assets and (ii) using the ‘exception’ to acquire capital. We contribute to scholarship on gender equality and entrepreneurship by demonstrating how such mechanisms perpetuate the meritocratic and unequal view of entrepreneurship.

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