Gender Gap and Segregation in Self-Employment: On the Role of Field of Study and Apprenticeship Training
45 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2007
There are two phenomena in the field of female entrepreneurship that have not yet been adequately explained by previous research, namely (first) the “gender gap” in self-employment and (second) gender-specific occupational and industrial segregation, also in self-employment. The “gender gap” in self-employment refers to the phenomenon that despite increasing absolute numbers of self-employed women in most of the welfare states of Western Europe and North America, the women’s self-employment ratio, referring to the ratio of self-employed women among all working women, remains roughly half that of men’s self-employment ratio (Arum and Müller 2004, Leicht and Strohmeyer 2005). This also holds true for Germany, where the chances to become self-employed are roughly twice as low for women than for men: after all, women comprise only 28% of all self-employed in Germany (Wagner 2005, Lauxen-Ulbrich and Leicht 2002). This arises the question why women are significantly less likely to become entrepreneurs than men. Research speaks of gender-based occupational segregation (or occupational sex segregation), when occupations exist in which the share of workers of one sex is so high that they could be called either “male” or “female” occupations (Jonung 1996, Melkas and Anker 1997). Research argues that the tendency for women in dependent employment to enroll in “sex-typical occupations” is also true for self-employment. Confirming the results obtained for United Kingdom (Hakim 1998), a German study (Lauxen-Ulbrich and Leicht 2002: 49-53) and an Israeli (Kraus 2003:6-7) study show that the most common occupations for selfemployed women still refer to jobs that are person- and service-oriented and are performed either in female-dominated occupations (typically “female jobs” include nurses, salespersons, hairdressers, beauticians, doctor's receptionist etc.) or integrated occupations (lawyers, consultants, economists, etc.). Instead, only a very small proportion of self-employed women (e.g. in Germany every fifth self-employed female, in Israel every tenth self-employed female) perform in male-dominated occupations, which mainly refer to traditional professions, craftsmen, as well as technicians and engineers...
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