For Immediate Release
Contact: Virginia Rutter / Framingham State University Sociology
firstname.lastname@example.org / 206 375 4139
New from CCF: November is National Entrepreneurship Month
What Promotes Women’s Business Innovation and Growth?
November 5, 2015, Austin, TX— Americans have always valued the free enterprise system for encouraging innovative start-ups. Silicon Valley is an example of how such entrepreneurship can create technological breakthroughs and produce new jobs. But Silicon Valley is also a good example of how men entrepreneurs typically attract larger funding and produce more aggressive, growth-oriented businesses than women.
According to “What Helps Women Entrepreneurs Flourish?”, a new briefing report released today for the Council on Contemporary Families, the U.S. has a higher proportion of women entrepreneurs than many other countries, but a lower proportion of those women-owned businesses generate high levels of income and job creation.
The new study suggests a surprising reason for these differences, and an even more surprising solution. Sociologist Sarah Thébaud (UC-Santa Barbara), analyzed survey data from 24 countries—including the U.S.—between 2001 and 2008. She found that the absence of family-friendly work policies in the traditional workforce prompts many women to start their own businesses in the hope of gaining more control over their work schedules and locations. But, Thébaud discovered, when women pursue entrepreneurship as a fallback strategy for employment, “rather than in direct response to a business opportunity they perceive, they tend to start smaller, less lucrative, and less aggressively growth-oriented businesses.” This actually reinforces women’s second-class economic status.
By contrast, when countries offer more generous family-friendly policies, fewer women feel compelled to leave the traditional workforce in order to get more family time. But the women who do start their own businesses tend to scale-up and create larger, higher-impact enterprises. In fact, Thébaud found, in countries where governments mandate generous amounts of paid family leave, “women business owners employ more workers, express bigger growth intentions, and are more likely to report introducing a brand new product or service to the market” than in countries without such family-friendly policies.
A false choice. In other words, debates over whether we should encourage private enterprise or support government-mandated family-friendly work policies may involve a false choice. Thébaud concludes that “free market advocates and proponents of public spending should recognize common interests… By reducing barriers to employment, supportive work-family policies promote women’s engagement in the types of aggressive, innovative, and growth-oriented types of entrepreneurship that are arguably so critical to economic growth.” That may be why a recent survey of U.S. small businesses showed that a massive majority support national paid family leave.
For further information, contact:
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Research Associate at the Broom Center for Demography
University of California, Santa Barbara
CCF BRIEF: What Helps Women Entrepreneurs Flourish?
CCF ADVISORY: What Promotes Women’s Business Innovation and Growth?
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The Council on Contemporary Families, based at the University of Texas-Austin, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of family researchers and practitioners that seeks to further a national understanding of how America’s families are changing and what is known about the strengths and weaknesses of different family forms and various family interventions.
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November 5, 2015