While mothers who start their own businesses may have more flexibility than those in a traditional workplace, they often face a "double whammy" — both as women and as entrepreneurs, a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation finds.
The report, Labor After Labor (32 pages, PDF), found that mother-entrepreneurs face many of the same challenges as women employees in traditional workplaces, including negative stereotypes regarding their skill level, higher financial barriers, greater family conflict, a lack of supportive mentors and peers, and difficulty realizing the work-life balance that attracted them to business ownership in the first place. Indeed, the participation rate of women in the labor force has stagnated since 2000, while their entrepreneurship rate remains about half that of men.
Given the changing nature of work, the impact of millennials and their focus on work-life balance, and the economic implications of cognitive biases against mom-entrepreneurs, the report argues that policy makers, businesses, and entrepreneurship support organizations should promote policy changes and new ways of looking at entrepreneurship that support them. Recommendations include changes to parental leave; a rethinking of the traditional work week; and scheduling entrepreneurship support activities around parents' schedules, creating work spaces with on-site child care, and providing mentors and counseling services.
"Pay inequity, lack of flexibility for family needs, and a 'second shift' of household duties adds to the challenges of being a woman in the workplace," said Alex Krause, Kauffman Foundation research analyst and co-author of the report. "Yet, while entrepreneurship offers opportunities, mothers who start companies face other barriers, such as cognitive biases."
"Women make essential contributions as employees, entrepreneurs, and parents," said report co-author Emily Fetsch. "They need more support, not more obstacles."