Fitting in and multi-tasking: Dutch farm women's strategies in rural entrepreneurship

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All over Europe more and more farm families start new income generating activities on and off the farm to supplement the decreasing income from primary productions. Farmwomen play an important role in these strategies but are at the same time perceived as less professional entrepreneurs compared to men. This is due to women's cautious and small-scaled approach to entrepreneurship, which is in its turn explained by women's lack of resources. This article follows another line of argument and departs from the question why women themselves choose to behave differently and prefer certain behaviour modes above others. The article is based on two research projects, which took place in the Netherlands during 1995-2001. The first research focused on how and why farmwomen started new economic activities on and off the farm. It shows that Dutch farmwomen share a specific approach to rural entrepreneurship and paid labour, which is characterised by fitting in and multi-tasking. Women add the new activities to their regular tasks and fit them into the already existing working scheme because they want to make sure that neither family nor farm is troubled by their initiatives. The second project focused on the development of new on farm activities over the course of time and followed five female rural entrepreneurs from 1995 to 2001. It demonstrates that women may change their approach and expand their business when they experience that work and care may be successfully combined and that their new business is rewarding financially as well as emotionally. Understanding women's specific approach to entrepreneurship is important in order to more effectively support them. So far, rural development policies are of little help to women as they usually promote a type of entrepreneur and an approach to entrepreneurship most common among men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-260
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • gender identity
  • pluriactivity
  • growth

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