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Is institutional support for women’s entrepreneurship feminist?

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNConference contribution/Paper

Published
  • Helene Ahl
  • Karin Berglund
  • Katarina Pettersson
  • Malin Tillmar
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Publication date2014
Host publication Gender, Work & Organization: Abstracts 1-376, John Wiley & Sons, 2014, p. 142-142
Pages142
Number of pages1
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Feminism in Sweden as well as in the other Scandinavian countries was largely formulated as state feminism. The women's movement has cooperated with feminists in the state, resulting in societies that count as the most gender equal in the world. The Scandinavian countries are consistently ranked in the top position on international gender equality indices. The state has provided a large publicly financed welfare sector that both employs many women, and makes it possible to combine work and family through family friendly policies. The last decade has seen a politica l change influenced by neoliberal thought, in which politicians hand over welfare state responsibilities to the market, and instead encourage entrepreneurship, not least among women. The Swedish government has since 20 years back programs and policies to promote women's entrepreneurship. The Swedish state has during the same period shrunk the pub lic sector and privatized many operations in services and care, which traditionally employ many women. Instead, women are encouraged to start businesses in former public sectors. Empirica l studies suggest however, that all of the increase of women 's entrepreneurs hip in these sectors is within low-paid, micro service businesses, typically child minding.

Traditional state feminism has also changed character. Instead of public regulations, market solutions are advocated. In this paper we ask how to theorize this change from a feminist theory perspective; we ask what the implications for feminist action are, and we ask what consequences for women's position in society are. We use research literature and policy texts as our empirical material and conduct a critical literature analysis. We conclude that the entrepreneurship discourse challenges, and possibly weakens state feminism and feminist action as we have known it in the Scandinavian countries, but may also offer new forms of feminist resistance, on market terms.