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Rendering sexism invisible in workplace narratives. A narrative analysis of female entrepreneurs’ stories of not being talked to by men

Entrepreneurism is widely regarded as being one way in which women can sidestep the sexism of male‐dominated institutionalized work environments and enter into a world in which men and women operate on a level playing field. Yet, in a corpus of stories of female entrepreneurs’ experiences, we noted that being ignored by men was a constant theme. Taking a social constructionist and narrative approach to identity, we analyse the gendered identity work that female entrepreneurs do in these stories and we seek to explicate the process through which female entrepreneurs do not evaluate being ignored by men as sexism‐in‐action. Using positioning theory as an analytical tool, we analyse these stories at three different levels: the here‐and‐now interaction between interviewer and storyteller; the there‐and‐then identity work of the characters in the storyworld; and the wider societal Discourses that the storytellers enact, and which are enacted by such identity work. Findings indicate that despite making gendered difference, inferiority and lack of agency relevant, the stories are not evaluated as sexism‐in‐action because the female entrepreneurs enact a postfeminist and neoliberal Discourse of freedom, autonomy and choice, rather than a feminist Discourse of discrimination and sexism.

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