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Mothers Who Start Their Own Business Face The Same Biases As Working Women Everywhere

According to a recent report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), women have contributed an additional $2 trillion the economy since the 1970s, and while that might look like progress, the Kauffman Foundation’s deep-dive into the numbers suggest that it’s not nearly enough. The report, aptly titled “Labor After Labor,” looks at how mothers who are entrepreneurs are held back from their full potential, even though you and your spawn already know she’s the boss.

Mothers’ participation in the workforce since 2000 is actually stagnant. The National Women’s Business Council estimates that women-owned firms only account for 10.6 percent of all businesses, but The Small Business Administration projected back in 1990 that this number should be closer to 40 percent. Given that Census data also shows they hold more bachelors degrees than men, a lot of moms are probably as pissed as you’d be if the roles were reversed.

Part of the issue is that men who have kids are rewarded in the workplace, while women doing the same thing are seen as less productive, goal oriented, and valuable (not if you’re being surveyed about it, of course). And while women starting their own businesses should be able to make an end run around such institutional biases by creating companies with more equal cultures, it doesn’t play out that way. Research out of Stanford found that women entrepreneurs (including moms) are seen as less skilled, in addition to having less access to funding than men. The Kauffman report also cited that nearly half of women entrepreneurs are lacking the appropriate mentorship to grow their ventures.

This is all a bit depressing, but authors of the report are optimistic that the changing values of millennials will lead to changing values in the workplace. As they move through their careers, things like increased parental leave (for dads too), mentorship, and flexibility, which  level the playing field for women with children should become more of the norm. See? Young people aren’t ruining everything, after all.

[H/T] Fast Company