Work-Life Balance: Decision-Making for Women

Work life balance is a major reason women consider entrepreneurship and self-employment. The question is: how do women balance work and taking care of a household?Unfortunately cultural norms about who is responsible for housework and child rearing have not caught up with the reality of women's work schedules. Affordable child care is also a challenge. In addition, employers may not offer flexible schedules and if they do, “flexible” may not mean what you need.

So it is no surprise that many women turn to self-employment as an option. U.S. Census Bureau figures suggest that younger women may be opting out of working for others to gain this flexibility in their own businesses. 41 percent of women business owners are under the age of 45; 36 percent of men business owners are under 45. But is it right for you?

When you work through the 4 steps of “High Quality Decisions” you may consider the following:

Alternatives:

  • What if I'm interested in a self-employed occupation that appears to be dominated by men? (i.e. Lawyers, farmers, fishers) What sorts of barriers might I encounter and how do I overcome them?
  • I'm interested in being a Veterinarian and being my own boss but not comfortable with the risks of starting my own business from scratch. What are my options? How much does buying a practice cost and how could I pay for it over time?

Consequences:

  • What would my husband/partner think of my choice of occupation and/or self-employment? What sorts of cultural or financial pressures would that place on our relationship?
  • What flexibility would a particular self-employment occupation offer me? What limitations would it place on me?

Information:

  • I need to talk with other women who work in my chosen self-employment occupation. What were her losses/gains to herself and others? What can I learn from possible mentors?

Plans:

  • Use informational interviews, online research, and other resources to map out necessary actions and goals.
  • Building confidence, through information gathering, to deal with negative consequences of career choice.

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