Prim'a'geniture: Gender bias and daughter successors of entrepreneurial family businesses

Hamilton, Lynn Alison; Ruel, Stefanie and Thomas, Janice Lynn (2021). Prim'a'geniture: Gender bias and daughter successors of entrepreneurial family businesses. Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, 5(2), article no. 29.



Entrepreneurs establishing businesses from research and innovation eventually must consider the succession of their firms. Often the enterprise is passed to a family member to continue the vision and legacy of the entrepreneurial founder. While typically the norm of primogeniture dictates that the eldest son is the recipient, today, with changing societal attitudes toward women’s leadership, daughters often find themselves as the firm leader. While some daughters report advantages, others experience significant gender bias in the successor-leader role. Using a critical realist methodology, this exploratory study used interviews from three daughters who were either the successor-leader or were in the process of becoming the successor-leader of a business founded by their father to identify mechanisms within the family, the family business and societal social structures that caused them to experience gender bias. Marxist-feminist theory and its notions of patriarchy were applied as a priori theory to identify potential mechanisms that cause gender bias. While this "triple patriarchy" was expected to explain the cause of gender bias, the data suggest that when daughter successors receive validation by their father, any mechanisms that may have caused gender bias are counteracted by others that enable a daughter to be accepted as the successor-leader.

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