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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Balancing business and family : a comparative study of the experiences of male and female entrepreneurs in British Columbia Phrast, Indira-Natasha


In recent years there has been in Canada, as in other industrial societies, a substantial increase in the size of the self-employed element in the occupational structure. This reverses a long standing trend and challenges traditional social economic theories that predicted and explained the historic decline. From the mid-nineteen seventies new theories that foretell and/or account for the renaissance of the small business sector emerged. Particularly noticeable in the most recent period is the rapid growth in the numbers of female entrepreneurs which has risen three times as fast as the rate for self-employed men in Canada. Feminization of small businesses calls for sociological research to explore why more women are starting up their own enterprises. Given their disadvantaged positions in the labour market what particular obstacles did they have to overcome? Also this raises interesting questions about how family obligations and gender roles affect growth and vitality of small enterprises. The purpose of this thesis is to explore and help to explain how self-employed men and women organize family and business. Forty self-employed men and women in British Columbia were interviewed in December 1994 to December 1995. The data were obtained from a semi-structured interview questionnaire. The study found that self-employed men and women coordinate business and family responsibilities differently. Gendered outlooks on the family emerged which in turn influenced motivation for becoming self-employed, determined the types of enterprises chosen, and ways in which business and family are organized.

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