Proposal preview

Female Entrepreneurs Around the World: Property Rights and Ownership, 17th – 20th Centuries.

For the past twenty years, the issue of women’s economic role in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries has been attracting increasing interest on the part of academics, especially from Europe and the USA. This session contributes to balance state of the art by bringing together scholars whose works explore the diversity and evolution of female entrepreneurial practices in European, North and Latin American countries and in Asia and Australia too.
Within the wide temporal framework from 17th to 20th centuries and experiences from ten countries (such as Argentina, Australia, Colonial America, Great Britain, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and New Zealand) the session intends to focus on general questions about female participation in enterprises as owners. The panel includes ten papers that will focus on the women’s property rights and the ownership of the firms.
These papers are based on primary sources, including archival documents, containing the statistical information on female entrepreneurs, and attempt to analyze the relevant statistics with regard to wide range of enterprises, from the tiniest to the very largest. Thus, most studies focus on the patterns of ownership of the firms, type of property (inherited or acquired), social background of the proprietresses, marital status of female entrepreneurs, participation of women as directors and stakeholders, their business strategies and role/partnership within a family firm framework, the conquer of the management chairs. This session will show an investigation of regional models in the mirror of the ‘separate spheres’ paradigm.
The analysis of lively case-histories reveals the background of a number of fortunes including instances of bankruptcy and property litigations, involving closest relatives.
The session discussion on correlation of the dynamic of female entrepreneurship’s development with its reflection in legislation will hopefully make it possible to elucidate the issue of opportunities and restrictions for women engaged in business, and to provide an answer to the question concerning the process of the extension of women’s civil rights.

Organizer(s)

  • Galina Ulyanova Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences galina.ulianova@gmail.com Russia
  • Susana Martínez-Rodríguez University of Murcia sumaro1976@gmail.com Spain

Session members

  • Galina Ulianova , Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Susana Martínez-Rodríguez , University of Murcia
  • Erica Salvaj , Universidad del Desarrollo and Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
  • Andrea Lluch , CONICET/UNL Pam-Argentina and Universidad de Los Andres
  • Amanda Gregg , Middlebury College
  • Tanya Byker , Middlebury College
  • Catherine Bishop , Sydney University
  • Stefanie van de Kerkhof, University of Mannheim
  • Kim Todt , Ithaca College

Discussant(s)

  • Béatrice Craig University of Ottawa bcraig@uOttawa.ca

Papers

Panel abstract

For the past twenty years, the issue of women’s economic role in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries has been attracting increasing interest on the part of academics, especially from Europe and the USA. This session contributes to balance state of the art by bringing together scholars whose works explore the diversity and evolution of female entrepreneurial practices in European, North and Latin American countries and in Asia and Australia too. The session intends to focus on general questions about female participation in enterprises as owners. The panel includes seven papers that will focus on the women’s property rights and the ownership of the firms. The discussion on the dynamic of female entrepreneurship’s development with its reflection in legislation will elucidate the opportunities and restrictions for women engaged in business, and to provide answers to the questions concerning the process of the extension of women’s civil rights.

1st half

Kickstarting Female-run Commercial Enterprises in 17th and 18th Century Colonial America.

Kim Todt

Female Entrepreneurship in 19th Century Australia and New Zealand: a British Transplant?

Catherine Bishop

This paper explores the experiences of women running small businesses in New South Wales and New Zealand in the nineteenth century. The colonisation of these areas by the British brought English laws and customs but these were adapted to suit the new societies. How did this affect women’s participation in business? Married women, spinsters and widows all ran businesses. In New Zealand, Māori women, particularly daughters of Pakeha (white) fathers and Māori mothers, exploited their ability to cross between two worlds. Laws of coverture and (in New South Wales the issue of felony attaint) affected women’s involvement, but not fatally. This paper outlines the colonial experience of female business operators, asking how far it was similar to and different from women in other jurisdictions. Was it just a British transplant, or were colonial women more entrepreneurial and adventurous with more opportunities?

This paper explores the experiences of women running small businesses in New South Wales and New Zealand in the nineteenth century. The colonisation of these areas by the British brought English laws and customs but these were adapted to suit the new societies. How did this affect women’s participation in business? Married women, spinsters and widows all ran businesses. In New Zealand, Māori women, particularly daughters of Pakeha (white) fathers and Māori mothers, exploited their ability to cross between two worlds. Laws of coverture and (in New South Wales the issue of felony attaint) affected women’s involvement, but not fatally. This paper outlines the colonial experience of female business operators, asking how far it was similar to and different from women in other jurisdictions. Was it just a British transplant, or were colonial women more entrepreneurial and adventurous with more opportunities?

Female Factory-Owners in the Russian Empire from 1770s to 1810s: Statistics and Biographies

Galina Ulyanova

The discourse on the property rights of women gave rise to interest in the sources of their incomes and wealth, and particularly those specific to the group of female entrepreneurs, whose personal wealth or property was created as a result of their activities outside of their domestic circle. My research has been confined to a small group of female entrepreneurs active during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the Northern provinces of the Russian Empire such as Arkhangelsk, Vologda and St Petersburg provinces, those territory covered the northern parts of European Russia from the Finnish border in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east, and a population amounted in 1800 to about 700,000. The analysis of biographies of 14 proprietresses of 17 enterprises is based upon data derived from examination of the factory’s half-year accounting reports of 1795-1803 from the Archive of Ancient Acts in Moscow...

The discourse on the property rights of women gave rise to interest in the sources of their incomes and wealth, and particularly those specific to the group of female entrepreneurs, whose personal wealth or property was created as a result of their activities outside of their domestic circle. My research has been confined to a small group of female entrepreneurs active during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the Northern provinces of the Russian Empire such as Arkhangelsk, Vologda and St Petersburg provinces, those territory covered the northern parts of European Russia from the Finnish border in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east, and a population amounted in 1800 to about 700,000. The analysis of biographies of 14 proprietresses of 17 enterprises is based upon data derived from examination of the factory’s half-year accounting reports of 1795-1803 from the Archive of Ancient Acts in Moscow (RGADA) and a wide range of other sources covering the period from 1763 to 1810, and indicating the factory-owners economic activity, social status as well as the benefits received from family and social networks.

Female Entrepreneurs in the Russian Empire, 1894-1908: Evidence from Manufacturing Census data.

Tanya Byker & Amanda Gregg

The paper documents the characteristics of Russian manufacturing establishments with female partners or founders. Somewhat uniquely for this period, women in the Russian Empire held property independently from their husbands. Women commonly appeared as partners or founders of Russian firms, but their impact on firm organization, production technology, and performance is poorly understood. In a partnership, women could bring capital to manufacturing establishments or serve to shield the firm’s assets in the event of bankruptcy. In corporations, female founders could contribute political or economic connections helpful in navigating the incorporation process or securing founding capital. This paper uses newly collected manufacturing census data from 1894, 1900, and 1908 to document cross-industry differences in machinery, labor force composition, and survival present in establishments with female partners or founders. This evidence contributes to larger discussions on the prevalence and roles of female entrepreneurs in historical cases of countries that industrialized relatively late.

The paper documents the characteristics of Russian manufacturing establishments with female partners or founders. Somewhat uniquely for this period, women in the Russian Empire held property independently from their husbands. Women commonly appeared as partners or founders of Russian firms, but their impact on firm organization, production technology, and performance is poorly understood. In a partnership, women could bring capital to manufacturing establishments or serve to shield the firm’s assets in the event of bankruptcy. In corporations, female founders could contribute political or economic connections helpful in navigating the incorporation process or securing founding capital. This paper uses newly collected manufacturing census data from 1894, 1900, and 1908 to document cross-industry differences in machinery, labor force composition, and survival present in establishments with female partners or founders. This evidence contributes to larger discussions on the prevalence and roles of female entrepreneurs in historical cases of countries that industrialized relatively late.

2nd half

Women in Business: Laws, Firms and Social Conventions in Spain during the long 19th Century.

Susana Martínez-Rodríguez

The aim of this work is to offer a detailed overview of the legal and social framework faced by women in Spain throughout the long 19th C. The hypotheses to be developed are related (1) to the absence of women from the debate about entrepreneurship; (2) to the appearance of (new) legal technologies for creating new companies and to access ownership of financial and commercial capital; and, above all, (3) to the challenges that Spanish women faced when accessing company management throughout the long 19th century. The paper will include a revision of the legal framework; primarily, a review of the conditions reserved for women that are spelled out in the business codes of 1829 and 1885.

The aim of this work is to offer a detailed overview of the legal and social framework faced by women in Spain throughout the long 19th C. The hypotheses to be developed are related (1) to the absence of women from the debate about entrepreneurship; (2) to the appearance of (new) legal technologies for creating new companies and to access ownership of financial and commercial capital; and, above all, (3) to the challenges that Spanish women faced when accessing company management throughout the long 19th century. The paper will include a revision of the legal framework; primarily, a review of the conditions reserved for women that are spelled out in the business codes of 1829 and 1885.

Women may be climbing on Board, but not in First Class”: Female Board Participation in Chile and Argentina, 1901-2010

Erica Salvaj & Andrea Lluch

Businesswomen have been largely invisible and difficult to track in history. In the topic of corporate power and women networks, recent studies have emphasized that corporate elites have until very recently been all-male bastions. However, few analyses have tried to trace back the female board participation and the process of a possible increase in the feminization of corporate elites in emerging economies during the last century. To address this issue, we study the process of women directors’ incorporation in Argentina and Chile from 1901 to 2010. We find that females found their way into corporate boards in different ways and on different moments. Most importantly, in the last years, we detected that more women are invited to boards, but they are not integrated into the corporate elite networks as men do, given that women still occupy a peripheral position in the network.

Businesswomen have been largely invisible and difficult to track in history. In the topic of corporate power and women networks, recent studies have emphasized that corporate elites have until very recently been all-male bastions. However, few analyses have tried to trace back the female board participation and the process of a possible increase in the feminization of corporate elites in emerging economies during the last century. To address this issue, we study the process of women directors’ incorporation in Argentina and Chile from 1901 to 2010. We find that females found their way into corporate boards in different ways and on different moments. Most importantly, in the last years, we detected that more women are invited to boards, but they are not integrated into the corporate elite networks as men do, given that women still occupy a peripheral position in the network.

Hidden Owners of Hidden Champions? - West German Female Entrepreneurs and Leadership in Family Business after 1945.

Stefanie van de Kerkhof

Although female entrepreneurship declined in Germany in course of the 19th century there are several examples of “secret” female owners in big business i.g. Therese and Bertha Krupp (Krupp AG), Sophie Henschel (Henschel AG) or Käte Ahlmann (Carlshütte). Female entrepreneurs even played and are still playing a prominent role as owners and managers of „hidden champions“, as Hermann Simon showed. In my paper I will concentrate on female leadership and governance in these family-owned enterprises after 1945. In distinguishing between property rights and management functions I will argue that female owners were able to combine female stereotypes with male managerial role expectations and to establish a specific corporate governance. Within a hierarchic organisational structure they could exert control and strategic functions as owners, although they were not visible in public spheres. The presented case studies are based on archival studies and interviews in the innovative area of south-western Germany (Baden-Wurttemberg).

Although female entrepreneurship declined in Germany in course of the 19th century there are several examples of “secret” female owners in big business i.g. Therese and Bertha Krupp (Krupp AG), Sophie Henschel (Henschel AG) or Käte Ahlmann (Carlshütte). Female entrepreneurs even played and are still playing a prominent role as owners and managers of „hidden champions“, as Hermann Simon showed. In my paper I will concentrate on female leadership and governance in these family-owned enterprises after 1945. In distinguishing between property rights and management functions I will argue that female owners were able to combine female stereotypes with male managerial role expectations and to establish a specific corporate governance. Within a hierarchic organisational structure they could exert control and strategic functions as owners, although they were not visible in public spheres. The presented case studies are based on archival studies and interviews in the innovative area of south-western Germany (Baden-Wurttemberg).

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