The Older Entrepreneurial Self: Intersecting Identities of Older Women Entrepreneurs

Rebecca Jane Stirzaker, Rafal Sitko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper aims to contribute to the developing literature on entrepreneurship and identity by exploring the multidimensionality of older (50+) British women entrepreneurs’ (WE) identity. By using Positionality as a lens, greater insight into the complexity of the lived multiple identities of older WEs is explored.

Methodology: 12 in-depth qualitative interviews took place throughout the UK seeking to capture the various experiences of how older women engage with intersecting discourses surrounding enterprise culture and ageing whilst constructing their identities. Empirical data was subject to thematic analysis.

Findings: Overall, findings evidence the outcomes of these intersecting dimensions are largely positive and demonstrate the life enhancing benefits of these overlaps. Whilst tension was evidenced between age and how these WE perceive their entrepreneurial identities, as well as some constraints between identity as ‘mother’ and ‘entrepreneur’, overall synergy was found between the intersection of older WEs’ social identities and their entrepreneurial identity. It must be noted, however, that this synergy was heavily reliant on context and stage of life for these women.

Research Implications: This paper challenges the traditional discourse of entrepreneurship, which produces a homogenous view of entrepreneurs and omits key historical and social variables in the process of identity formation. The current paper adds to increasing calls to develop more sophisticated ways of measuring and understanding entrepreneurship and its impacts, moving away from an agency agenda and pursuing lines of enquiry that examine entrepreneurship as a process in contexts that are underpinned by both agency and external factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1748-1765
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number8
Early online date20 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2019


  • Enterprise
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Gender


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