Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Self-Employed Women and Their Families: Time Use and Socioeconomic Characteristics

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Self-Employed Women and Their Families: Time Use and Socioeconomic Characteristics

Article excerpt

SELF-EMPLOYED WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES: TIME USE AND SOCIOECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS

Women-owned businesses in the United States numbered about 400,000 in 1972, but more than 2 million by 1980. Women also have increased as a percentage of small business owners, from 5.7 percent in 1972 to 26.1 in 1980. The aggregate of women-owned businesses accounts for over $40 billion dollars in revenue per year.1 However, gross revenues for women-owned firms are substantially less than those for similar male-owned firms. Between 1977 and 1980, the average net income of female-operated nonfarm businesses was about 31 percent of the income of male-operated firms. For seven major industries, the average net income in 1980 of female- versus male-operated and nonfarm businesses ranged from a low of 11.1 percent (retail trade) to a high of 54.7 percent (finance, insurance, real estate). Female-operated farms also tend to have lower receipts than male-operated farms.2

1 U.S. Small Business Administration, The State of Small Business: A Report of the President (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984), p. 347; U.S. Department of Commerce, The Bottom Line: Unequal Enterprise in America (Washington, D.C.: Report of the President's Interagency Task Force on Women Business Owners, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978), p. 5.

2 U.S. Small Business Administration, The State of Small Business (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984), pp. 351, 356.

The research analyzing the problems of female entrepreneurs has been spares, but has divulged some of the reasons for the relatively poor firm performance. Among other things, women tend to concentrate in industries with lower profit margins, to operate smaller enterprises, and to operate more part-time enterprises. Women tend not to have gained the skills needed to operate a business in their previous paid employment, and discrimination in financial and legal markets has also hindered females' efforts.3 In addition, women tend to underestimate the time needed to run a business and have difficulty in balancing the needs of the firm and their families.4

3 R. D. Hisrich and C. Brush. "The Woman Entrepreneur: Management Skills and Business Problems,' Journal of Small Business Management (January 1984), pp. 30-37; T. Pellegrino and B. L. Reece, "Perceived Formative and Operational Problems Encountered by Female Entrepreneurs in Retail Service Firms,' Journal of Small Business Management (April 1982), pp. 15-24; E. B. Schwartz, "Entrepreneurship: A New Female Frontier.' Journal of Contemporary Business (Winter 1976), pp. 47-68; and U.S. Small Business Administration, The State of Small Business.

4 Pellegrino and Reece, "Perceived Formative and Operational Problems Encountered by Famale Entrepreneurs in Retail Service Firms:' C. E. Scott, "Why More Women Are Becoming Entrepreneurs,' Journal of Small Business Management (October 1986), pp. 37-44.

Time management challenges entrepreneurs regardless of gender, but is especially critical for women. Like most male entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs are married and have children, but unlike men, they still bear major responsibility for household work.5 Furthermore, self-employed women report more conflict between business and family than their male counterparts. These women feel that their husbands expect them to continue supplying the same level of household production as they did prior to opening the business. Female entrepreneurs' husbands rarely contribute to-either household production or the women's businesses, but wives of male business owners are often active in their husbands' businesses.6 As a consequence of time spent in household work, women may have substantially less time available for their businesses than do their male counterparts. The negative impact of household work on the labor force participation of women in general is well established. …

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