The Hidden Work of Women in Small Family Firms in Southern Spain

Paula Rodríguez-Modroño, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Astrid Agenjo-Calderón


Women have historically played an important hidden role in family firms, and a great deal of research is now shedding light on this role. In spite of the more formal nature of female work at the present day, still a considerable volume of women’s contributions in family firms is unregistered and unpaid, even in developed regions. A questionnaire was administered to 396 women working in small and medium-sized family firms located in Andalucia, a southern European region, characterized by familialism and an important informal economy. Our results confirm the persistence of subordinate forms of unpaid family collaboration due to the neutrality assigned to female contributions under the traditional gendered division of work. But also this study shows how some of the women voluntarily embrace subordinate roles as a temporary way to gain professional experience, useful for their future work inside or outside the family firm.


Gender; Women in Business; Unpaid Work; SMEs; Family Firms

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