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The Diva storyline: an alternative social construction of female entrepreneurship.

Smith, Robert


Robert Smith


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. The qualitative methodological approach involves an analysis of biographies of famous Divas 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.


SMITH, R. 2009. The Diva storyline: an alternative social construction of female entrepreneurship. International journal of gender and entrepreneurship [online], 1(2), pages 148-163. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 26, 2009
Online Publication Date Jun 26, 2009
Publication Date Aug 31, 2009
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2009
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2009
Journal International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
Print ISSN 1756-6266
Electronic ISSN 1756-6274
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 2
Pages 148-163
Keywords Entrepreneurs; Narratives; Women; Female entrepreneurship; Social constructionism; Narrative analysis 'Diva cycle'; Divapreneur
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