Recently, Terry Simmonds of the UK Small Business Directory wrote an online post that caused an understandable uproar:
This is a serious website for serious men with serious businesses, if you are just a little housewife running a little play business from home earning some pin money whilst your other half is out earning a living – please don’t register your business here.
This is a perfect example of the types of attitudes that are invisible in quantitative data yet create barriers to female entrepreneurs.
But it does highlight an important distinction. In many countries, especially developed countries, there are two tracks of female entrepreneurs: the full time, main income business and the part time additional income business.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a part time additional income business if that is what you want. The real issue is how can we curb the economic loss of women who are capable of running successful businesses with growth prospects but intentionally keep them ‘small’ and sidelined?
Is it a social norm problem?
Is it a childcare problem?
Is it an overcrowded, highly competitive sector problem?
Is it lack of financing?? training??
All these questions deserve serious national, public policy attention and innovative solutions.
Otherwise, worldwide, economies will continue to hemorrhage their economic future….
According to the 2012 Flash Eurobarometer on Enterpreneurship which included 40 EU and non-EU countries:
Men are more likely than women to say that their main source of income is their business (79% vs. 66%) and also that their business is their only source of income (70% vs. 57%). In both cases, that’s a 13% difference.
The 2012 OECD report ‘Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now’examined the gender pay gap for entrepreneurs (measured as self-employed) and found that even though the pay gap does not disappear, it narrows significantly when calculated on the basis of earnings per hour worked.
3 conclusions come to mind:
1) Earnings per hour worked may be a better indication of a business’s potential than whether it is a part-time or full-time business
2) The issue of part-time vs. full time female entrepreneurs should be an invitation for inquiry rather than be used for female entrepreneurship bashing
3) We need better data: Change at the public policy level starts with good quality country comparative data so that we can understand the dynamics of female entrepreneurship development.
And one closing thought ‘housewife entrepreneur’ sounds implausible, negative, almost an oxymoron but remember, nearly three decades ago, ‘college dropout’ and ‘entrepreneur’ held negative connotations and then along came Bill Gates and Steve Jobs…..