Sistas Are Doin' It (for Less Money) for Themselves [Gender & Self-Employment in Canada: Assessing Trends & Policy Implications]

Herizons, Fall 1999 | Go to article overview

Sistas Are Doin' It (for Less Money) for Themselves [Gender & Self-Employment in Canada: Assessing Trends & Policy Implications]


Empowerment. Independence. Power. Ah, the myths of self-employment, entrepreneurship and women.

A record number may be working for themselves, but according to the Canadian Policy Research Networks, they're still earning less than their male counterparts. According to Karen D. Hughes, of the University of Alberta, only a minority of women are earning more than if they worked for an employer. "Gender and Self-employment in Canada-Assessing Trends and Policy Implications" tallies an impressive array of statistics. The number of self-employed Canadian women nearly tripled in the last two decades. By 1997, one in six Canadians was self employed. Out of a total of 2.5 million, 870,000 were women.

Hughes makes the important distinction between employers and own-account workers who work at home, usually on a contract basis. Employers are clustered at the top of the pay scale and own-account workers at the bottom.

Self-employed business owners may be doing well relative to own-account workers, but they still only earn 69.2% of male business owners, not much different than the average 72.8 percent relative wage earnings of those who are employees.

"For the most part, the trend towards self-employment has often been assumed to benefit women," Hughes says, "Our figures present a mixed picture. …

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