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Boss LadyHow Three Women Entrepreneurs Built Successful Big Businesses in the Mid-Twentieth Century$
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Edith Sparks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469633022

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469633022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Asserting Self-Worth

Asserting Self-Worth

(p.197) 5 Asserting Self-Worth
Boss Lady

Edith Sparks

University of North Carolina Press

Asserting self-worth was necessary for twentieth-century female business owners in order to be successful and Lewis, Beech and Lewis each did it skilfully yet differently—respectively positioning herself in terms of stature, the irrelevance of gender or competence. They had to generate a positive valuation of themselves at a time when gender roles and stereotypes triggered an automatic discount to their worth expressed in lower pay, questions about their abilities, and the trenchant hold of the “family claim” positing that their job, first and foremost, was to care for husbands, children and homes. Articulating a counternarrative that established their value to their companies was important for female business owners and had an impact on the bottom line. Additionally, all three came from non-traditional backgrounds, making an unorthodox entrance into corporate leadership positions from secretarial jobs. This in combination with a lack of formal education beyond high school or even elementary school and the fact that they operated businesses in the highly male-dominated manufacturing sector, meant that the task of self-presentation was both complex and essential in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome for her company and herself.

Keywords:   Self-worth, Self-presentation, Valuation and gender, Women’s pay, Family claim

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