The construction of femininity and masculinity in the views of business women in Pietermaritzburg.
Shange, Nonjabulo Prudence.
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Background: Literature on business ownership has focused mainly on the differences between male and female business owners. Other research has concentrated on how female business owners adapt in a field that is perceived to be dominated by males. There is a scarcity of research about women who own businesses and what it means to them. Objectives: The aim of this study was to obtain a female perspective with regard to what it means to be a business owner. The study also aimed to discover if women value or challenge patriarchal, traditional or other forms of masculinity within their own business. Another aim of the current study was to determine how women distinguish between being successful business women and their identity as women. Design and method: This was a qualitative study which made use of semi- structured interviews. Participants: The sample consisted of five African female business owners from Pietermaritzburg. The age range of the participants was 32-45. Two of the participants were married and the other three were single. All the participants‟ highest level of education was tertiary. Two of the participants were selected using purposive sampling and the snowballing technique was used to find the remainder of the participants. Data analysis method: Thematic analysis was used to analyse the findings of this study. Findings: The traits that were reported as important for an entrepreneur to possess included patience, dedication and risk taking. Participants believed that there are no gender specific traits for entrepreneurship. The challenges faced by female business owners included gender discrimination and being undermined by male colleagues and others in society. Family responsibility and stereotypical categorisation were reported as traps that hinder the development of businesses for female business owners. Conclusion: There is a need for the creation of an environment that will make it possible for female business owners to work under conditions where they are not discriminated against or undermined because of their gender.