Joy and the mop: The role of film in doing and undoing gender in entrepreneurship

Layla J. Branicki, Elizabeth King, Kate Norbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Entrepreneurship remains principally constructed as a masculine activity performed by men, suggesting that women entrepreneurs continue to experience contradictory gendered expectations whereby they are both evaluated against male norms and expected to display culturally acceptable forms of femininity. While there is a growing body of critical literature on gender and entrepreneurship, limited work explores the audio-visual modalities of how gender performances reinforce and/or subvert gendered expectations in women's entrepreneurial activities. Considering this gap, we follow the feminist tradition of elaborating gender theory through film as an important medium of cultural production and transmission. By drawing on Butler's theory of gender performativity, we explore how a successful woman entrepreneur is represented in the semi-fictionalized film, Joy. Using a critical social semiotic approach, we analyze how the audio-visual aspects of the gender performances in Joy unfold across time and space to construct expectations of women's entrepreneurship. From our analysis, we make two principal contributions. First, we examine how the medium of film simultaneously reinforces and subverts the gendering of entrepreneurial activity. Second, we propose three sub-genres of gender performance—exaggerated femininities, instrumental masculinities, and situational gender (in)congruity—that can serve to subvert stereotypical expectations about women's entrepreneurship.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Early online date24 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2023


  • entrepreneurship
  • film
  • gender
  • Judith Butler
  • performativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Joy and the mop: The role of film in doing and undoing gender in entrepreneurship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this