Writing Lewis, Beech and Rudkin into the “canon of business leaders” forces us to reconceptualize the 1930s-70s as a context for business entrepreneurship and leadership and also how we think about business success. All three founded, managed and sold their businesses during a time period when gender fundamentally shaped both their opportunities and threats, and thus their “nose” for business needed to be attuned to their gendered context. They needed to be able to navigate these gender-specific opportunities and threats along with those shaped by more general contextual factors in order to be successful. We need to consider this in order to understand women’s leadership during this period. Thus, adding Lewis, Beech and Rudkin and a gendered analysis of how they started successful big businesses in the mid-twentieth century delimits the story of entrepreneurship and makes it more useful to us today, in particular for women trying to learn how to navigate gender in business and other professional contexts in the twenty-first century.
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