The postfeminist discourse of women entrepreneurs in Finland and Turkey

In my previous blog post, I briefly explained my PhD project “Gendered entrepreneurship in innovative sectors: A comparative study between Finland and Turkey”. In this blog post, I will give some insight into the main findings. I analyzed 29 interviews with women entrepreneurs from both Finland and Turkey to find out how gender shapes the entrepreneurship of innovative women and what strategies they develop to overcome gendered structural and interactional constraints in the sector.

Through a discourse analysis of my data I find that gender is constantly done and re-done and both Finnish and Turkish participants use postfeminist discourses as a tool to ignore existing inequalities. For example, Finnish respondents mostly see existing inequalities as a problem that concerns other countries and states as Finland is considered to have achieved gender equality. The Turkish participants express that structural inequality is part of Turkish society, but interestingly they state that inequality is not a problem for themselves but for other women who work in the same sector or other sectors. Another interesting common point between Finnish and Turkish participants is the use of postfeminist rhetoric of “individualization”.  However, Turkish and Finnish participants address this postfeminist concept from different perspectives. While Finnish participants express the inequalities they encounter in enterprises they do not view it as a structural problem but as a problem arising from the personality of individual men who work with them. Turkish participants, on the other hand, consider gender inequality to be structurally based. Still, they express that they do not encounter any inequality because they are women with strong characters who can overcome inequalities. They blame other female entrepreneurs for not taking the correct actions to address the inequality problem in the sector. They display statements that support the “strong,” “do-what-you-want” woman figure that postfeminism constantly keeps on the agenda.

To put this simply, participants in both countries commonly use postfeminist discourses to ignore inequalities, but different sociocultural characteristics make a difference in the way these discourses are used. However, the different expressions of postfeminist discourses do not eliminate the inequalities existing in the sector and strengthen the claim that postfeminism renders inequalities invisible.

Demet Demirez
PhD Student at Tampere University

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