Inhibited Intentionality and Cultural work: Reconsidering Gender and Female Success


  • Julie Sommerlund External Relations, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Sara Malou Strandvad Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University, Denmark



Creativity, Gender, Creative Industries, Arts, Textiles, Music, Film.


In this paper we suggest ways to reconsider the question regarding the relationship gender and creativity. First, we review the theoretical literature on gender and creativity, concluding that the dominant thought is that men are prevalent in making creative achievements, particularly when connected to the notion of ‘genius.’ Second, we review the empirical studies on gender and creativity, a body of literature that comes to the same overall conclusion. Third, we present an empirical case, a Scandinavian design school in which the relationship between gender and creativity is more nuanced, complex, and more dependent on context than both the theoretical and empirical literature would suggest. Based on this case, traits that are often described as hindrances for female agency and creativity are reconsidered. We conclude by suggesting that in certain creative contexts women use their ‘hindrances’ to produce fruitful strategies for overcoming historical gender inequalities, thus turning Iris Young’s classical argument--that women embody limitations--to give a productive and positive account of how women may become successful in creative work.


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