Working Paper BETA #2019-35

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Auteur(s) : Herrade Igersheim, Charlotte Le Chapelain

Title : Women Leaders in Industry in Nineteenth Century France: The Case of Amélie de Dietrich

Abstract : This article traces the history of Amelie de Dietrich’s role - from 1806 to her death in 1855 - as the head of one of the oldest family-owned businesses: the De Dietrich company. Amelie took important strategic decisions to adapt the company to the new economic opportunities in the metal sector, which arose in the first half of the nineteenth century. Her choices were decisive for the future of the company; what is more, she succeeded in restoring the familial ownership. Given the entrenched assumptions about gender roles prevalent in the early nineteenth century, how can we explain her success in meeting such difficult challenges? Relying on Amélie de Dietrich’s own unpublished correspondence, this contribution examines the factors that explain her success in imposing herself as a Maître des Forges. It thus underlines women’s role – as business leaders – during the industrialization process.

Key-words : French industrial revolution, entrepreneurship, invisible women, De Dietrich company.

JEL Classification : N63, N83