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“The Business of Women” by Melanie Buddle Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jan 23rd, 2021

Introduction

It is apparent that Melanie Buddle, in her book, The Business of Women: Marriage, Family, and Entrepreneurship in British Columbia, 1901-51, has emerged to be quite influential in the modern world. Uniquely, the book is important since it offers background information on how Canadian history has contributed to the field of business (Buddle 2). The author is specifically targeting women in business with the need to conceptualize the trend of business history in Canada.

As the plot of the book unfolds, the author begins by asking questions that touch on gender, business, and family. From the content in the book, the author is very keen to study the relationship between married women and their entrepreneurial abilities. He confirms that marriage has been taken as an occupation by this category of women. Therefore, many single women often lose out on gainful employment in order to settle in their marriages.

It is also crucial to note that the book explores the lifestyle of entrepreneurial women in contrast with the income-earning women in Canada. Buddle reflects how women have been defined in society by analyzing the influence of gender norms in the 21st century.

Evidently, the author puts more emphasis on the history of business, labor, gender issues, and the experiences encountered by women in British Colombia. According to the author’s opinion, it is apparent that there is a growing need for business history to undergo a revolution in terms of gender issues. In this case, the author triggers a rethinking altitude to the reader’s mind that business history must be considered in terms of gender contributions. She points out that women have participated in a conceptual space that is far away and divorced from the world of business (Buddle 14).

Moreover, the author is convinced that an entrepreneurial woman has reconciled identity by having the mentality that she is a wife, mother, or a widow and thus has no chance in business. This is contrary to the author’s expectations as she expects that profile of a businesswoman to be qualitatively entrepreneurial. Buddle perceives the entrepreneurial woman to be a product of a frontier ethos. She does not only shed light on the entrepreneurial nature of women.

She also explores the challenges and common stereotypes women hold about marriage (UBC Press Review). In a more appealing way, the author’s work exposes the unknown history of women’s lifestyles in Canada, particularly in the field of business, family, and marriage. Buddle’s study of women’s lifestyle is indeed groundbreaking in the sense that readers are able to identify the common challenges facing women in businesses, marriages, and families.

What were the author’s goals? Were they achieved?

Buddle aims at providing a comparative analysis of the trend of women in business in Canada. Basing her study on women, she tends to overlook the influence of gender, labor, and employment on the perceptions, views, attitudes, and trends of women in business (5 Star Review). Additionally, she intends to reveal that self-employed women are part of the business world in Canada. This implies that their history is discrete from those other women who rely on casual labor to earn income.

She targets to reveal the challenges facing the female entrepreneurs and how they cope with the existing gender norms. Sincerely speaking, she also aims to portray that businesswomen in Canada are, to some extent, unique, and there is a need to understand more of their history (UBC Press Review). Buddle firmly targets to position women’s entrepreneurial nature within the Canadian business world. In so doing, she proposes to criticize the ingrained public perception and view on women entrepreneurship. An example of public perception, as Buddle put it, is that self-employment in women is an occupation or an alternative to home-making.

In line with this, the author aims to offer a succinct exploration of some of the challenges and changes occurring in the Canadian economy and how they affect women’s trends in business. Ideally, Buddle aims at investigating how gender norms and cultural media impact women’s performance in business (Buddle 22). In the long run, Buddle also targets to alleviate public fears about gender stereotypes in business and labor in Canada. To achieve this, she conducts a consensus in a professional women club in British Colombia in order to analyze the experience of professional and wage-earning women (5 Star Review).

Moreover, she observes the women and their ability to negotiate between employment, marriage, family, and employment in all regions of Canada. It is definite that Buddle’s work has achieved the goals and has provided much than it is required concerning the business history in Canada (UBC Press Review). In fact, the author has successfully been able to shed light on gender issues, women’s history, and their specific encounters in the Canadian economy. For this reason, this book has been acknowledged by scholars and learners due to its ability to provide an ingrained analysis of women’s history of Business.

How the book “fits” the course coverage

In my opinion, the book is quite appealing to students since it is relevant to the course coverage. One of the main objectives of the course is to examine the Canadian business and labor systems within a broad concept of the country’s economic history (Buddle 23). Throughout the course, there are key themes that are to be considered in the study of Canadian economic history. These themes include the changing perception and different strategies of business conduct in the field of labor in Canada (UBC Press Review).

Moreover, the course will also explore the evolution of state roles and the implication of such changes to the economy. As a matter of fact, this book is suitable for students who are interested in studying the history of labor and business from the ancient era to the present 21st century. Furthermore, this book is quite significant to students interested in learning certain concepts such as the history of gender, labor, and business in the context of Canada.

Through this book, students will be in a position to analyze the historiography of women and their entrepreneurial nature in Canada. Ideally, through the study of women historiography in the textbook, students will gain more understanding of labor history in Canada since this will boost their analytical skills. It is vital to note that earlier on, very little was known about the self-employment of women in Canada. This book has a rich historiography that focuses on women’s life in marriage, business, and family (5 Star Review).

Learners will be eager to study the textbook in order to find out the trend of women entrepreneurship in various aspects of life in at 21st century. In addition, students who are historians tend to focus on the history of women and their lifestyle in relation to employment, business, marriage, and family. This book shall, therefore, guide learners to explore some of the milestones women have undergone in an attempt to boost their economic well being (Block 2).

This includes women who are able to emerge as entrepreneurs, those who worked for wages as well, as those who perceive marriage as an occupation. The author’s historiography is vital in enabling students to understand that the history of women and work varies in different regions (UBC Press Review). In this case, learners will find it easy to incorporate the information obtained in the book into real application in the course outline. It is imperative to note that less is known about the history of women in British Colombia than the case in other provinces. However, the author in the book gives a coherent and concise analysis of self-employed and business women’s lifestyles in British Columbia (5 Star Review).

In this case, the author provides a rigid background in which students can understand women’s historiography in terms of gender roles, labor, and business in Canada. Finally, the book will help students to be able to state the developmental and historical trend of Canadian women in the field of labor, business, and the emerging changes and concepts (UBC Press Review). The learners will also be able to establish the relationship between labor and capital from the historiography.

Are the ideas/arguments consistent, credible, clear, or have a clear bias?

The author’s work is very consistent, thereby making it easy for the reader to understand. In my case, I am better equipped to understand the Canadian business and labor history on reading the book. This has been made possible by the author’s systematic analysis of her work, making it easy to unfold events and bring out the evolutional changes of women’s history in meadows of business labor and family.

In the book, the author has divided the historiography into two main sections. The first section is primarily based on census data obtained by observation. In this case, Buddle draws the relationship between family, gender, class age, self-employment, and status among Canadian women in the 21st-century era (UBC Press Review). The author uses facts from both published census and participant observation hence coming up with an analysis of women’s history in Business.

In the process, the author criticizes many common perceptions of women and businesses during the early phase of the 21st century. Through the book, I am able to understand the essence of studying women’s history separately in its own context. As the author argues, women have distinct characteristics that need to be studied selectively (5 Star Review).

How successful is the author in answering either descriptive questions like who, what, when, where, how, and/or the more analytical issue of “why”?

It is apparent that Buddle has emerged successful in tackling the issue of women and business. In the historiography, she focuses specifically on the revolutions, changes, and perceptions about women in the labor, business, state role and, gender aspect in the Canadian economy (Buddle 2). Descriptively, the author is able to support her argument on the position of women in the economy of Canada and as well as unravel their trend in business in the early 21st century (UBC Press Review).

Buddle is straightforward in elaborating on the issues affecting women’s trends in marriage, family, and business. For instance, through the census figures, it is revealed that self-employed women were more likely to be advanced in years, married, and responsible in motherhood as opposed to the wage-earning women. Significantly, her argument on the history of women in Canada is not biased since the evidence given is based on reliable consensus and personal observation (5 Star Review).

In the content of the historiography, Buddle’s evidence is supported by observable facts making her views to be predictable and applicable in the future. For instance, she argues that self-employed women are likely to choose to remain in the labor force after getting married as opposed to their counterparts (Block 1). In support of this view, she confirms that such dissimilarities have been reflected in the frontier characteristics of women in British Colombia.

Analytically, she substantiates that this has been triggered by a notable gender imbalance and a masculine character in Canada. Therefore, Buddle’s work has made an enormous contribution to the historical study of labor, business, and the gender role of women in the Canadian economy (UBC Press Review).

Critique/bias of Buddle’s work

Nevertheless, the work is not completely perfect, and thus it is subject to critique. To expound on this, the book has emphasized more on the marginalized and working-class women in their masculine world of entrepreneurship in Canada (Block 2). In this case, the author restricts her historiography on issues of gender, masculinity, and family, leaving out other vital aspects such as race, ethnicity, and culture (5 Star Review).

It would have been of great importance if Buddle emphasized how racial factors influence the achievement of particular privileges among women. In addition, there would also be a need to expound on how ethnic and cultural forces influence the trend of women in business, labor, and family. Needless to say, the author would have analyzed the trend of women in other fields, such as education and politics. Instead, she restricts herself to the masculinity field and its effect in the field of labor and business in Canada.

Moreover, another limitation of Buddle’s work is that she fails to provide an alternative and options for the challenges and experiences of women in the field of labor, business, and marriage (UBC Press Review). In my opinion, Buddle’s work is not enough to help learners understand the history of labor, business, gender, and family in Canada. This is due to the fact that the author restricts herself to the history of women leaving out that of men.

This implies that learners have to look for more sources to advance on the historiography of Canadian business and labor history (5 Star Review). In this case, the work emerges to be very specific, limiting readers from being speculative across both genders. Nevertheless, irrespective of the few shortcomings, Buddle’s work provides the reader with rich insight and stable exploratory ground for future study on gender and business in British Columbia.

In summing up, it is definite that the ideas presented in the book by Melanie Buddle are quite influential, especially in the 21st-century business world. In a unique way, the book is an integral source of history since it highlights how Canadian history has contributed to the field of business through the input of women. The author aims at sensitizing women on how they can become active players in the field of business in spite of the long term historical dominance of men in this field.

Works Cited

Block, Tina. Book Review: The Business of Women: Marriage, Family, and Entrepreneurship in British Columbia 1901-1951. 2011. Web.

Buddle, Melanie. The Business of Women: Marriage, Family, and Entrepreneurship in British Columbia, 1901-1951. Vancouver: UBC, 2010. Print.

5 Star Review. Business of Women the Marriage Family and Entrepreneurship in British Columbia 1901-51. 2011. Web.

UBC Press Review. Business of Women the Marriage Family and Entrepreneurship in British Columbia 1901-51 by Melanie Buddle. 2001. Web.

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