The diva storyline: an alternative social construction of female entrepreneurship.
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SMITH, R., 2009. The Diva storyline: an alternative social construction of female entrepreneurship. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 1 (2), pp. 148-163.
Purpose: Many ‘Divas’ despite possessing destructive character traits ironically become successful entrepreneurs thus illustrating an alternative ‘storied’ social construction of entrepreneurship. This influences how female entrepreneurs are perceived in the popular press and can be manipulated as an alternative entrepreneurial reality. This work builds upon research into entrepreneurial identity introducing the ‘Diva’ concept. Methodology/approach: The qualitative methodological approach involves an analysis of biographies of famous Diva’s to identify common themes; and an internet trawl to identify supplementary micro–biographies and newspaper articles on ‘Divas’. This tripartite approach allows rich data to be collected permitting a comparative analysis. Findings: This empirical study presents the socially constructed nature of entrepreneurial narrative and the ‘Diva storyline’ demonstrating the influence of journalistic licence upon how successful women are portrayed. The study adds incremental credence to power of male dominated journalistic practices to vilify enterprising behaviour to sell newspapers. Research limitations/implications: An obvious limitation to the work is that the sample of articles and biographies selected were chosen via search parameters which mention the word ‘Diva’. Nevertheless, there is scope for further ‘more detailed’ research into the phenomenon to flesh out the model built in this preliminary paper. Practical implications: An important implication for scholars and journalists is the need to reconsider how we tell and decode entrepreneur stories. As researchers we need to recognise that there are other avenues for women to become entrepreneurs than to become businesswomen and that it is alright for women to reject the ‘entrepreneur’ label. Originality/value: This paper informs our understanding of the socially constructed nature of how we tell, understand and appreciate entrepreneur stories. It thus makes a unique contribution by illustrating that the storylines which constitute the ‘Diva Cycle’ are constructed from the same storylines that we associate with entrepreneur stories but narrated in a different order. It provides another heuristic device for understanding the social construction of gendered entrepreneurial identities making it of interest to feminist scholars of entrepreneurship and to social constructionists alike.