Women and entrepreneurship - Female traders in the Northern Netherlands c. 1580-1815
Amsterdam: Aksant, 2007. ISBN 978-90-5260-277-6, 334 pp.
The many travellers who visited the Dutch Republic praised them: the heroic Dutch tradeswomen. In contrast to women in the surrounding countries, in the early modern period Dutch women were enterprising, independent and capable traders. In Women and entrepreneurship they form the topic of investigation.
Danielle van den Heuvel examines the role women played in trade in the Northern Netherlands. She looks at three forms of commercial enterprise in particular: street selling and stallholding, shopkeeping and international commerce. She uses evidence of female entrepreneurship originating from sources in several urban and rural areas of the country, which allows her to portray the various activities tradeswomen undertook, but also to elaborate on the differences between male and female entrepreneurs, and the reasons for the high shares of women involved in the sector. Her conclusions are surprising. Commerce was not always as accessible for women. The institutional framework and the way in which a trade was organised were crucial to its accessibility for women. Moreover, Van den Heuvelís work shows that it was not the Dutch Golden Age, but rather the subsequent century which provided a favourable climate for female entrepreneurship. With this conclusion, the author also makes a significant contribution to the debates on the effect of economic trends on female labour participation in the past.