Female Entrepreneurship in Spain during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Structural changes during the past two centuries shaped Spanish women's economic activity in firms, family businesses, and self-employment, reflecting women's adaptation to a social system that assigned gender-specific roles and rights. In response to the discriminatory effects of labor segregation, Spain's female workers specialized in the service-sector jobs that were available to them. Until the twentieth century, Spanish women's business initiatives in this sector were mainly in domestic service, retail distribution, and social services. During the 1900s, the cumulative impact of rapid industrialization, the growth of service industries, legal reform, and the shift to a democratic system in Spain during the 1970s paved the way for women to enter public and private firms as professionals. As a result, more women became self-employed or helped to run family businesses related to tourism, the hotel and restaurant industries, design, fashion, and the arts.