Gender practices and the business-household nexus: Women’s entrepreneurship in São Paulo, Brazil

PhD thesis

Machado Marques Sampaio, S. 2020. Gender practices and the business-household nexus: Women’s entrepreneurship in São Paulo, Brazil. PhD thesis Middlesex University Business and Law
TypePhD thesis
TitleGender practices and the business-household nexus: Women’s entrepreneurship in São Paulo, Brazil
AuthorsMachado Marques Sampaio, S.

This study investigates how women’s entrepreneurship in the emerging economy of Brazil shapes traditional gender practices and power relations in the households and female-owned enterprises of the ‘ABC Paulista’, Greater São Paulo. Specifically, the thesis explores the business-household nexus and the ways these distinct, but interrelated social domains impact one another. Analysing the connection between households and women’s enterprise in the Brazilian context is a major original contribution of this work.
Informed by a feminist, life course and embedded approach to entrepreneurship while underpinned by a critical realist epistemology, this research also contributes to the literature by exploring how macro and micro context factors create, maintain, and transform the social and economic lives of Brazilian women entrepreneurs, families and household members.
Through an innovative 2-stage data collection process, this qualitative study was conducted in São Paulo between 2016 and 2017, interviewing women entrepreneurs and household members from a sample of 41 subjects. Based on empirical data, a typology of four different archetypes of the business-household nexus of women’s entrepreneurship was developed.
The findings illustrated how even though many women entrepreneurs were breadwinners in their households, normative gender practices and power relations still impact their motivations to entrepreneur, the acquisition of human capital and financial resources for the business and its management, which subsequently influenced women’s time availability and personal ability to exercise power and control in the household. The gendered division of housework and childcare were strong aspects of the research as most women entrepreneurs tackled business and household responsibilities by themselves or by outsourcing the work to another female figure (the ‘nanny’, the ‘maid’ or ‘the grandma’) or what I called ‘The Second Mother’, perpetuating a gendered and unequal division of responsibilities in the household. Similarly, there was little or no involvement from household members’ labour in the enterprise.
This work also showed that women’s roles were diverse and deeply embedded in interwoven contexts (e.g. social, cultural, spatial, material, familial), thus, few managed to ‘break out’ of gendered and sectoral boundaries imposed by Brazilian culture and society through the autonomy generated by their enterprises. Conversely, many female participants had internalised the lasting patriarchal structures of Brazil and reproduced them at home and in the business.

Sustainable Development Goals5 Gender equality
8 Decent work and economic growth
9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Research GroupCentre for Enterprise, Environment and Development Research (CEEDR)
Department nameBusiness and Law
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print05 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Apr 2023
Accepted29 Jul 2020
Output statusPublished
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