Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Working Life Opportunities versus Legal Obstructions as Conflicting Particulars Shaping Turkish Female Workforce and Entrepreneurship: Breaking the Legal Glass Box

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Working Life Opportunities versus Legal Obstructions as Conflicting Particulars Shaping Turkish Female Workforce and Entrepreneurship: Breaking the Legal Glass Box

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Today Turkish women labor in the form of employees, employers and self-employment have a significant role in the economic life of the nation, despite inefficiencies originating from lack of certain knowledge and skills, beyond the shortfall of assistance by civil society organizations, and government bodies sometimes hampering such progress through discouraging bureaucratic rules and applications. However, as explored in this study via the review of existing literature and proceedings of official bodies, other than the interviews with women-entrepreneurs, one critical issue is the segregative clauses in the Turkish Legal Code that barriers the would-be contribution of female workforce (and entrepreneurship) to business life. In order to create a better environment for women to work for others and their ownselves, national legal procedures should be cleared out of such items--also as a prerequisite of the international agreements promised to be followed.

INTRODUCTION

Last twenty years witnessed increased participation of women to laborforce as employees and self-employed, entering men dominated business areas beyond their traditional line of work. While in 1890s "fewer than 20% of women chose paid employment and most of those who did had low-paying and unattractive jobs", in 1995 more than 60 % became a part of the workforce, and "although many had low-paying jobs, more and more women were found in the professions and in executive positions" (Parkin et. al., 1997, 194, 195). Neft and Levine (1997) note that by 1995 figures women constituted 36% of the total workforce on global basis, with "sharpest growth rates" highest in industrialised countries except Eastern Europe. "The areas with the lowest rates of growth were those regions that already had large proportions of working women-Eastern and Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a slight decline" (p. 50). However, "whether in the West or in the developing world...not all women are content to be employees." There is "a growing number...emerging as entrepreneurs" choosing "for their own account, to organize and manage the resources of their own companies and assume the financial risks inherent in doing so in the hope of eventually earning a profit" (Starcher, 2001). Although "Female-entrepreneurship is a relatively recent phenomenon which took off only in the 1970s" women were already "taught to use their initiative under what are often difficult circumstances, in other words, to be enterprising and innovative" through their "household duties...including child-rearing and the financial practical side of housekeeping" (OECD, 1997, 3). "The number of women and minorities in small business has grown exponentially since 1960. The appeal of small business-independence, challenge, personel freedom-is the same for women and minorities as for anyone else. Yet these qualities are especially desirable for individuals who have been faced with discrimination in the workplace, whether it was deliberate or unintentional" (Hatten,1997, 42). The 1980s were called the "decade of women entrepreneurs." In fact, the female entrepreneurs have been the fastest growing segment of the small business sector, creating firms at a rate twice that of their male counterparts (Megginson et al., 2000, p. 38).

Despite notable progress on global basis, discriminative issues resulting from inherited traditional approaches to women's status and role in society hinder women paid-labor. "Widespread gender discrimination" that "hardly uptunes the nature of existence for the vast majority of women in the Third World, where a combination of culture, laws and religion not only deprive women of basic human rights, but relegate them in some places to almost subhuman status" contradicts to equal rights argument on the part of women. "In parts of Latin America, Asia, or Africa, women suffer from endless discrimination that begins even before birth with forced abortion in some countries" (Viotti, 2001, pp. …

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