Title

Time Use of Self-Employed Parents: Gender, Caregiving, Well-being and Balance

Start Time

21-10-2011 2:55 PM

End Time

21-10-2011 3:25 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Some parents are drawn to self-employment because of the perceived flexibility to balance multiple roles. Mothers, in particular, may seek self-employment to better manage the domestic ‘double shift’ (Hughes, 2006; Walker & Webster, 2006), and more often than fathers cite self-employment as a strategy to integrate work and family responsibilities (Gray & Hughes, 2005). But disadvantages associated with selfemployment like longer work hours, unpredictable schedules, and less leisure can affect feelings of balance (Hyytinen & Ruuskanen, 2007). This study explores the effects of self-employment on parents’ time use and perceptions of well-being, and whether these effects differ by gender. It uses a ‘relational time’ perspective, which suggests time is allocated and given meaning in relation to the needs, demands and desires of significant others (Odih, 1999).

Using weighted time diary data from the 2005 Canadian General Social Survey, time use patterns for 3,595 parents with at least one child at home (< 19 years) were compared for both self-employed (n=696) and employee parents (n=2,899). Well-being was measured by perceptions of time pressure, stress, job and life satisfaction, and satisfaction with work-life balance. Predictor variables for multivariate analysis included household composition, marital status, preschooler at home, education, immigrant status, and employment hours.

Time use patterns were similar among employee and self-employed parents. When analyzed by gender, differences emerged according to employment arrangement. Compared to employees, self-employed mothers spent less time working for pay, and more time in direct caregiving and with children present. Self-employed fathers spent less time on routine activities such as children’s physical care and housework than employed fathers. Self-employed parents had significantly higher job satisfaction and overall satisfaction with life, but perceptions of stress were similar to employee parents. Time pressure was lower for fathers than mothers, with no difference by employment status. Mothers reported less satisfaction with work-life balance; however, self-employed fathers were significantly more dissatisfied with work-life balance than other fathers.

Occupational characteristics of self-employment may help mothers create balance in the absence of employment policies ensuring flexibility. Job satisfaction is greater, but the instability of self-employment or other factors may undermine work-life balance for fathers. Different outcomes in both time use and well-being indicate the importance of sensitivity to gender and role expectations when examining occupational experiences of self-employed parents.

Suggested discussion questions:

  1. Why might self-employment have no effect on parents’ levels of stress or time pressure, even though job satisfaction is much higher compared to parents who are employees?
  2. How might occupational class and/or occupational sector affect the experience of selfemployment in terms of feelings of balance and overall satisfaction with life?
  3. What insights do time diary data bring to understanding mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of selfemployment? What are some of the shortcomings of time diary data that could be addressed in future research?

References

Gray, M. & Hughes, J. (2005). Caring for children and adults: differential access to family-friendly work arrangements. Family Matters 70 (18-25).

Hughes, K. D. (2006). Exploring motivation and success among Canadian women entrepreneurs. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 19(2), 107-120.

Hyytinen, A. & Ruuskanen, O.P. (2007). Time use of the self-employed. Kyklos, 60(1), 105-122. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2007.00361.x

Odih, P. (1999). Gendered time in the age of deconstruction. Time Society, 8(1), 9-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0961463X99008001002

Walker, E.A. & Webster, B.J. (2006). Gender, age and self-employment: some things change, some stay the same. Women in Management Review, 22(2), 122-135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09649420710732088

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Oct 21st, 2:55 PM Oct 21st, 3:25 PM

Time Use of Self-Employed Parents: Gender, Caregiving, Well-being and Balance

Some parents are drawn to self-employment because of the perceived flexibility to balance multiple roles. Mothers, in particular, may seek self-employment to better manage the domestic ‘double shift’ (Hughes, 2006; Walker & Webster, 2006), and more often than fathers cite self-employment as a strategy to integrate work and family responsibilities (Gray & Hughes, 2005). But disadvantages associated with selfemployment like longer work hours, unpredictable schedules, and less leisure can affect feelings of balance (Hyytinen & Ruuskanen, 2007). This study explores the effects of self-employment on parents’ time use and perceptions of well-being, and whether these effects differ by gender. It uses a ‘relational time’ perspective, which suggests time is allocated and given meaning in relation to the needs, demands and desires of significant others (Odih, 1999).

Using weighted time diary data from the 2005 Canadian General Social Survey, time use patterns for 3,595 parents with at least one child at home (< 19 years) were compared for both self-employed (n=696) and employee parents (n=2,899). Well-being was measured by perceptions of time pressure, stress, job and life satisfaction, and satisfaction with work-life balance. Predictor variables for multivariate analysis included household composition, marital status, preschooler at home, education, immigrant status, and employment hours.

Time use patterns were similar among employee and self-employed parents. When analyzed by gender, differences emerged according to employment arrangement. Compared to employees, self-employed mothers spent less time working for pay, and more time in direct caregiving and with children present. Self-employed fathers spent less time on routine activities such as children’s physical care and housework than employed fathers. Self-employed parents had significantly higher job satisfaction and overall satisfaction with life, but perceptions of stress were similar to employee parents. Time pressure was lower for fathers than mothers, with no difference by employment status. Mothers reported less satisfaction with work-life balance; however, self-employed fathers were significantly more dissatisfied with work-life balance than other fathers.

Occupational characteristics of self-employment may help mothers create balance in the absence of employment policies ensuring flexibility. Job satisfaction is greater, but the instability of self-employment or other factors may undermine work-life balance for fathers. Different outcomes in both time use and well-being indicate the importance of sensitivity to gender and role expectations when examining occupational experiences of self-employed parents.

Suggested discussion questions:

  1. Why might self-employment have no effect on parents’ levels of stress or time pressure, even though job satisfaction is much higher compared to parents who are employees?
  2. How might occupational class and/or occupational sector affect the experience of selfemployment in terms of feelings of balance and overall satisfaction with life?
  3. What insights do time diary data bring to understanding mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of selfemployment? What are some of the shortcomings of time diary data that could be addressed in future research?