'What’s women’s work?’ Work-family Interface among women entrepreneurs in Italy

De Simone, Silvia and Priola, Vincenza (2015). 'What’s women’s work?’ Work-family Interface among women entrepreneurs in Italy. In: Broadbridge, Adelina M. and Fielden, Sandra L. eds. Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management: Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out. Edward Elgar, pp. 390–408.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781782547709.00033

Abstract

The importance of female self-employment to society and the economy has been recognized across the continents, however limited research has explored the specific experiences and difficulties encountered by women entrepreneurs when starting and operating a business. Drawing on thirty-one interviews with Italian women entrepreneurs the chapter brings together entrepreneurship studies with work-life balance research and explores the ways in which women entrepreneurs experience and manage the relationship between the demands of their work and those of their family. Specifically, the analysis of the interview data focuses on understanding whether the perceptions of work-family interface are constructed as conflicts and or whether they are also viewed as opportunities for professional and personal enrichment. The study highlights the often conflicting positioning of work and family life among women with young children, while recognising, in a few cases, the enhancement that self-employment can bring to women’s life. Furthermore the study also reports the unequal distribution of household chores among women entrepreneurs and their male partners. It is evident that such inequalities are embedded in cultural traditions which still construct house-work as ‘women’s work’.

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