Role Models and Women Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Superwoman Has Her Say

It is suggested that more “role model” women entrepreneurs are needed. However, the gender gap in entrepreneurship remains. This study analyses the narratives of 51 role model women entrepreneurs to explore how they represent women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. We found that in accordance with the contemporary pressure for women to succeed and perform personally and professionally, the voice of the (super)woman doing “individualized entrepreneurial femininity” dominates. The role models narratives obscure race, class, and age barriers; reproduce prevailing gender stereotypes; normalize discriminatory workplace treatment and depict entrepreneurship as an appropriate alternative for working mothers. Implications for policy makers are presented.


Janice Byrne, Salma Fattoum and Maria Cristina Diaz Garcia. Forthcoming. Role Models and Women Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Superwoman Has Her Say, Journal of Small Business Management, first published 27 February 2018:

2018-03-14T09:29:38+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Janice Byrne
I am Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour at Iéseg School of Management, France and have been working there since August 2012. I previously worked at EMLYON Business where I completed my PhD in Management in 2012.  I am very proud to have been a member of the second ‘cohort’ of EMLYON’s PhD programme.  Early in 2017, I was lucky enough to be a visiting scholar at University of California, Santa Barbara: immersing myself in their award winning (gender studies!) sociology department was a real eye-opening experience for me!

Eccentric in nature, eclectic in research, my work generally combines at least two of the following three themes: gender, entrepreneurship and education.  My current work addresses gender and entrepreneurial role models, business growth intentions, training, work-life balance and family business succession.  I’ve published in numerous international journals including Academy of Management Learning and Education, Small Business Economics, Organizational Dynamics, Management International, Revue de l’Entrepreneuriat, Industry and Higher Education as well as popular media outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and The Huffington Post.  I am a member of the editorial board of Academy of Management Learning & Education and regularly review for various leading entrepreneurship journals. I am an active member of the ISBE’s Gender and Enterprise Network (GEN).  I am also a big fan of the DIANA project, and won Best Paper Award in 2015.

When it comes to combining research and practice, I try to be a do-er as well as a thinker (and a writer!): I am Academic Director of Led By HER, an entrepreneurship training program for women who have experienced violence or extreme personal hardship.  This initiative is the perfect symbiosis of my three passions: education, entrepreneurship and real girl power!

Wife to one very determined entrepreneur and mother to two enterprising young boys (!), I am very thankful for my strong and supportive family.  While I live in France, I am Irish to the core and frequently return to my fair city, Dublin.  There is nothing quite like the green, green grass of home!

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