Scaling the great wall: how women entrepreneurs in China overcome cultural barriers through digital affordances
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Scientific articles 
Women in patriarchal societies face cultural barriers hindering them in pursuing entrepreneurship. For example, women are hindered by gender roles, male dominated networks and expectations that they take of the family. Recently, scholars have argued that digital technologies may provide women with avenues to bypass these barriers. Yet, there is little knowledge about how female entrepreneurs engage with digital tools, and how this may help them bypass gendered, cultural barriers. Using 18 interviews with female entrepreneurs in Beijing and Shanghai, we identify four affordances (virtual networking, online learning, opportunity creation and scaling-up) that women use to overcome the cultural barriers to entrepreneurship. We find that through engaging these affordances, the women feel empowered and able to challenge traditional structures. Our paper contributes to recent work in digital and women entrepreneurship as we unpack how women actively create affordances, such as female friendly communities, and how they skilfully use new digital technologies to try to disrupt traditional industries.