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Female Business Owners Benefit From Flexibility

Research on Female Business Owners Shows More Housework, Fewer Work Hours

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Female Business Owners Benefit From Flexibility
Photo credit: Jason Florio/Getty Images

If you've imagined that you could quit your job and start your own business to achieve better work-life balance, you may be on the right track.

Female business owners use the flexibility that comes with self-employment, spending more time on child care and housework than people who work for an employer, according to a research report released by the U.S. Small Business Administration in February 2009.

Female business owners spend 3.5 more hours per week in household activities than wage-earning women and six more hours than men, the study found.

"Previous studies have established that women enter self-employment for reasons other than potential earnings and that life-style factors heavily influence their decision," Shawne McGibbon, acting chief counsel for advocacy at the SBA, said in a statement. "This study documents that self-employed women's time-use patterns are in fact different from those of wage-and-salary earning women. Self-employed women spend less time on work-related activities and more time on household activities and child care."

Male Vs. Female Business Owners

Women are 57 percent less likely to become entrepreneurs than men, with the lowest rates of self-employment among black and foreign-born women. Female business owners make up less than 7 percent of women in the labor force, compared with the more than 12 percent of men who are self-employed, the SBA said.

The largest difference between male and female business owners was found in secondary child care, when the parent is the same location as the child but primarily doing another activity. Female business owners spend 6.4 hours more per week than men in secondary child care.

Self-employed women work about 10 fewer hours a week and spend three more hours on primary child care relative to self-employed men, the researchers said.

Being married has opposite effects on how male and female business owners use their time, the study found. Self-employed women who are married work 4.5 hours fewer than their unmarried counterparts, while married self-employed men work almost four more hours a week than unmarried self-employed men.

Female Entrepreneurs Vs. Salaried Workers

Female business owners spend less time than wage-and-salary workers -- either men or women -- on work-related activities and more time on household activities. But female workers already spend two more hours a week on child care than their male colleagues.

Each additional child in a household results in 2.4 fewer work hours per week for self-employed women and 1.5 fewer hours per week for women who are employed by another organization, the study found.

Who Becomes Self-Employed?

Higher-earning women are more likely to enter self-employment than their lower earning peers. Women with advanced degrees are more likely to become business owners, especially in the financial, education and health sectors, and other service jobs, the study said.

The authors said their findings support policies that enhance work-life balance, offset racial disparities in entrepreneurship and encourage education as a way to encourage more women to enter self-employment in order to balance family life with the desire or need to earn a living.

The paper on female business owners was written by Tami Gurley-Calvez of West Virginia University, Katherine Harper of the University of Tennessee and Amelia Biehl of the University of Michigan-Flint. It was based on 2003-2006 data from the American Time Use Survey, which is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source: the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy

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