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When the “Manny” is the Boss. An Exploratory Study into Discrimination and Preferential Treatment Perceived by Men Childcare Business Owners

Natalie Sappleton
p. 93-113

Résumé

There are three major oversights in the extant literature on occupational segregation. Firstly, the study of segregation is confined to employed workers ignoring the experiences of those in self-employment. Secondly, gender segregation tends to be studied from the perspective of women : there are few published accounts of the experiences of men in traditionally female roles. Finally, existing studies tend to document the negative, but not the positive consequences of gender segregation. This paper begins to address these gaps through an explorative, descriptive study comparing the experiences of men business owners in both gender congruent (construction and sound recording) and gender incongruent (childcare) sectors. 93 New York City based male business owners com­pleted a survey into experiences of positive and negative discrimination by individuals with whom they do business. The data they provided suggest that men owners of childcare businesses do experience gender discrimination. Although some respondents reported preferential treatment from customers, on the whole the evidence points to greater negative than positive discrimination against male owners of childcare businesses.

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I. Introduction

1The concentration of men and women into sex segregated work activities has been widely studied. Amidst this vast body of literature, however, several lacunae persist. Firstly, the segregation of men and women is generally examined at the level of employment, rather than self-employ­ment. While scholars have investigated segregation within workplaces (e.g. Browne, 2006), at the occupational level (e.g. Anker, 1998) and even in the informal economy (e.g. Snyder, 2005), entrepreneurial segregation – the concentration of men and women business owners into sex-segrega­ted sectors – remains vastly understudied. This is a crucial oversight for there is evidence that entrepreneurial segregation contributes to inequality in similar ways to sex segregation in employment (Marlow/Carter/Shaw, 2008).

2Secondly, just as gender tends to be viewed as an attribute that is only possessed or performed by women (Holmes, 2007), gender segregation is typically studied from the perspective of women. There are examinations of the experiences of women pilots (Davey/Davidson, 2000), women engi­neers (Watts, 2007) and women construction workers (Martin, 1997), but far fewer published accounts of the experiences of men in traditionally fe­male roles. Thirdly, gender segregation is treated as an affliction or scour­ge that gives rise to a host of negative outcomes for women. Scholars highlight, for example, the deleterious impact of segregation in terms of pay differentials, and the poor experiences and prospects of women in underrepresented fields, but pay far less attention to the positive consequen­ces, such as job satisfaction (Bender/Donohue/Heywood, 2005).

3The purpose of this paper is to address these gaps by exploring the perceptions of men business owners operating in a sector that is typically do­minated by women – the childcare sector – comparing them to the experiences of men operating firms in more traditional fields, such as construction. No empirical studies of the experiences of men as business owners in female-dominated business exist, but research on male workers in femini­zed occupations show that being male in a woman’s world is a source of simultaneous advantage and disadvantage (Simpson, 2004). Extrapolating these findings to self-employment suggests two alternative outcomes for “minority men” : heightened levels of gender stereotyping and discrimination typically justified by accusations of hypo-masculinity (Henson/Krasas Rogers, 2001) or the enhanced ability to capitalize on their minority status (Williams, 1995).

4Given the paucity of research explicitly documenting the experiences of men business owners in sectors in which they are minorities, I investigate here not only men business owners’ perceptions of discrimination against them, but also of preferential treatment by individuals with whom they do business. The conventional representation of the (male) entrepreneur is of an independent, free-spirited individual who is in control of his own desti­ny (Solomon/Winslow, 1988). Indeed, one of the frequently cited motivations for entrepreneurship by both men and women is the desire to be one’s own boss (Kirkwood, 2009). Moreover, unlike women, men have a long, unbroken history of business ownership, and male entrepreneurs are found in all sectors of the economy (US Census Bureau, 2011). These observations might suggest that men entrepreneurs are insulated from discri­minatory practices, but the findings presented in this empirical study suggest otherwise.

5The rest of this paper is organized as follows. A review of the related literature is presented in the next section. The literature on entrepreneurial segregation is scarce, therefore, insights are derived from the literature on men in “women’s” jobs. The theoretical framework of the study is also sketched. Next, the data and method are described. Following the analysis, the findings are discussed. The paper concludes by setting out scholarly recommendations.

II. Review of Related Literature

A. Gender Segregation and Business Ownership

6Gender segregation – the concentration of men and women into occupations dominated by members of their own sex – is comprised of both verti­cal and horizontal elements. Horizontal segregation is understood as the nominal overrepresentation of women and men in sectors, occupations and jobs in ways that are not directly linked to inequality (Browne, 2006). For instance, the nursing profession is heavily dominated by women while the vast proportion of engineers are male. In contrast, vertical segregation is understood as the ordinal overrepresentation of the sexes in jobs, occupations or sectors in which women are typically concentrated in the domains that offer lower salaries, poorer job-related benefits and fewer opportunities for promotion and progression (Charles/Grusky, 2004). The literature commonly refers to the existence of vertical segregation as the glass ceiling, for it highlights the invisible but ever-present barriers that prevent the ascension of women to positions of power.

7Entrepreneurial segregation is unique in that it comprises elements of both vertical and horizontal segregation. In the United States, the context for this study, business ownership remains male-dominated, with the latest US Census Bureau figures showing that 29.6 per cent of privately held, non-agricultural businesses were solely owned by women in 2007 (Center for Women's Business Research, 2009). This observation is attributed to the masculinization of entrepreneurship in popular and traditional discour­ses (Ahl, 2006, 2008 ; Bird/Brush, 2002 ; Bruni/Gherardi/Poggio, 2004 ; Green/Cohen, 1995 ; Lewis, 2006). It is argued that the standard notions of the “entrepreneur” – hero, captain, adventurer, explorer – are both cast and perceived as masculine, and that the features of entrepreneurship as an activity – risk-taking, innovation, emotional detachment, initiative, rationality, leadership ambition – align closer with the stereotyped characteristics of men, rather than those associated with women (Gupta/Bhawe, 2007 ; Gupta/Turban/Bhawe, 2008 ; Gupta/Turban/Wasti/Sikdar, 2007).

8There is also a horizontal dimension to the segregation of business ow­nership : while men-owned businesses are generally found in all sectors, women-owned businesses are overwhelmingly crowded into a narrow seg­ment of the economy, particularly in retail, healthcare and social assistan­ce and educational services, as shown in figure 1. The self-employed work that many women do – cleaning homes, caring for children, mending clo­thes and so on – are effectively commercial replications of the unpaid work that women perform in the home (Cohen, 2004 ; Echavez, 2000 ; Lowrey, 2005 ; Minniti/Arenius, 2003). These business are smaller than those owned by men (Burke/FitzRoy/Nolan, 2002), they are more likely to be organized as sole traders than as larger corporations (Coleman, 2002), they occupy lower status portions of the job market, cater to local rather than global markets (Bates, 2002), are generally less profitable (Miller/Besser/Riiber, 2006 ; Verheul/Caree/Thurik, 2009), less sustainable, and have lower levels of growth and generate lower levels of turnover than typically male sectors (Morris/Miyasaki/Watters/Coombes, 2006). Thus, it can be observed that women are both underrepresented in business ownership as a whole, and they are underrepresented in the most lucrative portions of business ownership.

  • 1 Source : US Census Bureau, 2011, Table 11. Publicly owned businesses excluded. Definitions are as f (...)

Figure 1 : Business ownership by sex of owner and two-digit industry classification, 20071.

Figure 1 : Business ownership by sex of owner and two-digit industry classification, 20071.
  • 2 The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a hierarchical schema consisting of tw (...)
  • 3 During this time period, 51.9% of female and 28.4% of male sole proprietorships were found in just (...)

9While women-owned businesses in male-dominated sectors are relatively rare, the evidence suggests that men owned businesses are to be found in high numbers in virtually all sectors (Sappleton, 2013). The concentration of men in both business ownership and the broad distribution of men-owned businesses across sectors raise the question of whether one can truly speak of the non-traditional male business owner. However, as is the case with occupational segregation, segregation in business ownership becomes more extreme as the level of classification becomes more detail­ed (Anker, 1998)2. Using Statistics of Income data, for example Lowrey (2005) assessed the distribution of male- and female- owned sole traders across the most popular business activities during the period 1985-20003. The analysis revealed that during that time period, 51.9% of female and 28.4% of male sole proprietorships were found in just 10 activities, most of which were heavily segregated. Of these, childcare was the most heavily concentrated activity for self-employed women : just 0.8 percent of male sole proprietorships were in the childcare sector (Lowrey, 2005).

  • 4 Self-employment levels in the childcare industry are generally very high : in 2008, there were 428, (...)

10Men’s experience as business owners/self-employed workers in the childcare industry is worth investigating for two major reasons. Firstly, re­cent figures suggest that men are entering childcare as self-employed wor­kers in greater numbers. Between 1985 and 2000, for example, the number of male-owned child day care businesses grew 30 percent annually (compared to an annual rate of 3.13 percent for female businesses in that indus­try) (Lowrey, 2005). According to the US Census Bureau (2011) there were 86,604 wholly men-owned US organizations supplying childcare ser­vices in 2007 – 11.8 percent of the total4. It is notable that while there has been some migration of men into self-employment in childcare, progress in men’s representation in employed childcare jobs has stalled (Janairo/Holm/Jordan/Wright, 2010). One interpretation of this trend is that business ownership is a means for men who desire to work in the profession to avoid the notoriously low levels of pay – a 2005 estimate of $20,850 puts the average childcare wage at less than half the average New York State salary of $51,940 in the same year (New York State Department of Labor, 2007). Starting a business is also known as a way for men in fema­le dominated work nontraditional men to reassert the vertical element of the sexual division of labour : it enables them to distance themselves from the rank-and-file, to identify with the leadership role rather the shop-floor and to escape the less well paid, less autonomous, lower status, less challenging and more rigidly controlled nature of much “women’s work” (Cameron et al., 1999). The association between men, power and authority in the workplace, is so strong and entrenched that it has been said that «to be managed is to be feminized» (Lupton, 2006 :113, emphasis in original).

  • 5 The term “manny” was coined by Holly Peterson in a 2002 article in the New York Times.

11Secondly, there is a curious regional “fad” evident in several large American cities which may be driving demand for male childcarers. The media in New York City in particular has made much of the so-called cra­ze for male nannies – affectionately termed the “manny” or “Hairy Poppins”5. According to one article, «Tibetan nannies are so last year… every­one in NYC and its surrounding areas wants a ‘manny’» (Phillips, 2007 : §1 ; Scrinzi, 2010 ; see also Shapiro, 2007). This demand would seem to contradict the oft-depicted suspicion of male childcare workers by parents (Cameron/Moss/Owen, 1999) and offers an excellent opportunity to explore the experiences and perceptions of self-employed men in the childcare sector.

B. Discrimination and Preferential Treatment

  • 6 Particularly where hiring decision makers are also male (see Allan J., 1993).
  • 7 In the UK, for example, one-quarter of men working in nursery and primary schools are head teachers (...)

12The growing presence of men business owners in stereotypically female activities such as childcare raises the question of whether these men experience discrimination or preferential treatment, and from which sources. The employment literature depicts men in women’s jobs as experiencing both advantage and disadvantage simultaneously (Simpson, 2004). Being a minority is a source of advantage because they are able to capitalize on their rare nature through preferential hiring practices (Foster/Newman, 2005)6, they can earn more (Lupton, 2006), are able to capture the most lucrative specialties (Simpson, 2004 ; Lupton, 2006), receive favourable treatment (Pringle, 1993) or dominate the most powerful positions (Brad­ley, 1993 ; Cushman, 2002), a phenomenon that Williams (1989, 1992, 1995) refers to as the glass escalator. The ability to ride the glass escalator means that, in practice, there are a higher proportion of men in the upper echelons of female-dominated jobs than there are in these jobs as a whole (Williams, 1992)7.

13Balanced against the glass escalator effect, are reports that men in stereotypically female jobs must negotiate around accusations or expectations of hyper- or hypo-masculinity (Carrington, 2002 ; Cameron et al., 1999 ; Henson/Krasas Rogers, 2001). For example, men in Allan’s (1993) study of elementary school teachers complained that the man who is too masculine is suspected of being an incompetent and insensitive teacher but the man who is empathetic and nurturing is stereotyped as feminine and unnatural. The 35 male primary school teachers in Foster and Newman’s (2005 :345) study were seen simultaneously as

handyman, sportsman, sexual predator, precocious careerist, potential child abuser, staff room sex symbol, discipline man, father figu­re, or simply a comment-worthy rare commodity.

14The experiences of men that own businesses in female-typed sectors in which women predominate in employment are so far undocumented. The sociology and social psychology literature offers two theoretical frameworks that are suggestive of contrasting outcomes for men. Gender role congruency theory provides a model for understanding the relationship between the perceived fit between an individual and their occupational role, and the ensuing social outcomes. Linton (1936) famously defined a “role” as a performance : a cluster of expected behaviour patterns and obligations attached to a particular social status in which expectations are culturally and socially defined and individuals are pressured, rewarded and punished to adopt certain roles and to reject others. West and Zimmer­man (1987) argued that gender is one such role, and individuals “do” gender by acting in accordance with commonly accepted sex-appropriate behaviours. In articulating gender role congruency theory, Nieva and Gutek (1980) argued that performing gender-typed tasks is one way in which the sexes meet these expectations. Trust and legitimacy arise between actors if inferences about the behaviour of each are empirically met. The punishment for violating the expected patterns of behaviour for a gender role is negative evaluation. Thus, where a task is male-typed, men receive more favourable evaluations than women. Where a task is female-typed, women are judged as more competent than men.

15Because individuals have many roles and identities (gender, race, family status and so on), only the role that is most salient in a given situation is used to make inferences about their suitability for, and capabilities in a particular role. Where occupations are heavily sex-segregated, sex is both the most readily observable and salient characteristic of the occupation, and is thus used to denote expectations about the behaviour of the incumbents of the occupation. In other words, incongruency makes the incumbent’s sex more salient as a basis for evaluation.

16The current supportive evidence for gender congruency theory in the business context is small and does not relate explicitly to the experiences of men owners in gender atypical sectors. For example, Gutek et al. (1999) argued that when confronted with a choice between a traditional or nontraditional service provider, customers favour the provider whose gender is congruent with the norm. Coyle and Flannery’s (2005) interviews with women business owners in male-dominated industries revealed high levels of discrimination and prejudice against women, particularly from clients : the authors concluded that it was the women based in the most densely male-dominated fields that experienced the greater number of gender-related barriers. It is reasonable to suggest that men business ow­ners in a highly female dominated industry such as childcare experience similar levels of stereotyping.

17An alternative theory – the shifting standards model – has been offered by Biernat and colleagues (Biernat/Fuegen, 2001 ; Biernat/Kobrynowicz, 1999). According to this theory, when individuals are judged on group-stereotyped subjective dimensions, they are compared only to within-cate­gory reference points. That is, women are compared to other women, and men are compared to other men. For example, when an observer describes a woman as “tall”, this conjures up an image of someone who is different in feet and inches to a “tall” man. Thus, the authors argue, evaluations of men and women are not directly comparable.

18The shifting standards theory also explains why competence is deemed to be context specific : women are generally seen as more competent than men at “feminine” tasks (e.g. childrearing), while men are considered more competent at so-called masculine tasks (e.g. auto repair). When observers judge individuals on subjective scales, they adjust the end anchors of the scales so as to reflect the expected distribution of group members on the attribute being judged. This theory suggests that men in female-ty­ped sectors may be evaluated more positively on subjective attributes than men in male-typed sectors. In other words, on subjective dimensions such as competence at childrearing, men may be held to lower standards than women.

19Again, shifting standards theory remains untested in the context of men-owned firms in female-typed sectors. Very early accounts of women entrepreneurs in male-dominated sectors do offer anecdotal evidence. For example, Goffee and Scase’s (1985) foundational investigation into the experiences of women business owners revealed that some women actually benefitted from their minority status. The authors quoted women that claimed

Being a woman in a man’s world… it’s a great advantage over some of my male colleagues… I find that I get a better deal… It’s because I’m a woman – they don’t see many women around and so they like to come along and chat me up… and you get a better deal (Goffee/Scase, 1985 :72).

20In many cases gender minorities are given increased attention, and this may be positive as well as negative (Fuegen/Biernat, 2002). In similar ways to the glass escalator effect, men business owners of childcare firms may too experience preferential treatment.

21Finally, incidents of stereotyping and discrimination may vary by sex because the gender-type of industries and occupations not only affects the sex of the incumbents, but also the sex of those other individuals with whom they come into contact. For example, in organizations in male-do­minated industries, staff are likely to be male : in female-dominated work­places, subordinates will be female. In some sex-dominated sectors, custo­mers are also likely to be of one sex (childcare centers are a good exam­ple). Again, there is little empirical evidence for this assertion in contexts where men are rare, but plenty that considers women in stereotypically male contexts. For instance, in one study, Gutek and Cohen (1992) repor­ted that women who worked in a non-traditional job and spent time wor­king with men (e.g. engineering) experienced more social-sexual behavi­ours (harassment, sexual overtures, objectification, obscenities) than women who had traditional jobs but worked with other women (e.g. airline stewardesses) and women who had traditional jobs and also worked with men (e.g. nurses).

22Experiments reported in Lyons et al. (2008) have revealed that stereoty­pes are most readily maintained and efficiently transmitted through homogeneous, rather than heterogeneous networks, because shared or communal common ground knowledge emphasizes and reinforces in-group identity. In contrast, information that disconfirms stereotypes is “interpersonally risky” : it does not promote harmonious relationships between individu­als with similar characteristics and thus it less readily transmitted between interactants. As Lyons et al. explain,

A network that is composed mostly of people who share similar stereotypes plays a large role in driving the diffusions of SC [stereotype consistent] rather than SI [stereotype inconsistent] information through the network (Lyons et al., 2008 :74).

If many members of a network believe that most in their network believe a set of stereotypes, then they may be even more inclined to favour communicating SC [stereotype consistent] information (Ib­id. :76).

23When homogeneity breaks down, information that disconfirms stereoty­pes may diffuse more easily. The major implication of these findings is that stereotyping of individuals performing gender incongruent activities is more likely to come from members of the opposite sex.

24In summary, very little is known about the experiences of men that own businesses that perform activities typically deemed to be women’s work. On the one hand, gender role congruency suggests negative consequences for an individual whose sex does not correspond to the sex type of their occupation. On the other hand, business ownership has long been domina­ted by men : there are very few business sectors in which male entrepreneurs are not found in sizeable numbers. «In industries where men-owned businesses historically have had strong support from customers, business networks, and families, they probably continue to receive it» (Bird/Sapp, 2004 :10). That is, any role incongruency may be cancelled out where a man is a business owner (a male-typed activity) in a female-typed or female-dominated industry such as floristry or childcare (a female-typed activity), a position summed up as early as 1900 by hairdressing business owner Gilbert C. Harris who reportedly explained his motivation for entering the hair business as «I had to do some business to be a man and be re­cognized among men» even if that meant entering a “female” profession (Harris, 1900 :77). Further still, the novelty of being a man in a woman’s world might bring with it certain privileges and benefits, as espoused by glass escalator theory and shifting standards theory. Owing to the lack of previous empirical studies regarding men business owners in stereotypically female fields and the exploratory nature of this study, no hypotheses are proposed at this time.

III. Method

A. Data

  • 8 It is noteworthy that initially, five sectors (two male and two female-dominated, and one mixed) we (...)

25Data for this paper comes from a wider study of women and men business owners of firms in gender typical and atypical business sectors (Sappleton, 2013). 700 randomly selected women and men business owners of firms in the construction (male-dominated), sound recording (male-domi­nated), childcare (female-dominated) and publishing (integrated) sectors in New York City were contacted three times by email with a request to complete an online survey by clicking a hyperlink8. The business owners were identified through the Dun & Bradstreet’s Selectory and ReferenceUSA databases. Email addresses were purchased from ReferenceUSA or located through an online search. The 57-item survey instrument was pos­ted on Bristol Online Surveys system, provided by the Institute for Learning and Technology at Bristol University and ran for seven months. Of the 700 emails, 49 bounced back and 5 respondents actively refused to participate. 255 completed and useable questionnaires were submitted, equivalent to a response rate of 38.1 percent. Data from 93 men business owners in the sound recording, construction and childcare sectors is drawn upon for the purposes of this paper.

B. Measures

26Sex-domination of sector. The samples of men business owners in the construction and sound recording sectors (n = 62) were pooled and coded as male-dominated (1). The sample of male childcare owners (n = 31) was coded as female dominated (2).

27Discrimination. Respondents were asked «Thinking just about your commercial relationships, have you or your business ever experienced discrimination because of your gender ? Please indicate below all sources of this treatment». The six possible sources were : customers/clients, staff, colleagues, suppliers, financial institutions, other. If a respondent perceived discrimination, this was coded as 1, otherwise : “no perceived discrimination” was coded as 0. A composite measure of discrimination was also obtained by counting, for each respondent, the total number of repor­ted sources of discrimination, out of a possible 6. So an individual who had experienced discrimination from each of the six sources was assigned a score of 6 : a respondent who reported no discrimination was scored 0.

28Preferential treatment. Respondents reported whether each of the same six sources (customers/clients, staff, colleagues, suppliers, financial institutions, other) had ever treated them preferentially because of their sex. A composite measure of preferential treatment was obtained by counting, for each respondent, the total number of reported sources of positive discrimi­nation, out of a possible 6. So, an individual who had experienced positive discrimination from each of the six sources was assigned a score of 6 : a respondent who reported no positive discrimination was scored 0.

29The variable homogeneity measures the degree to which owners’ business networks were comprised of individuals that were the same sex as the owner. Respondents indicated on a Likert scale (1 = All, 5 = None) how many of 11 types of contact were the same sex. A “not applicable” option was also available. The groups were as follows : a) “the partners in this business” b) “the board of directors of this business”, c) “the management team”, d) “the firm’s suppliers” e) “the employees of this firm” f) “our clients/customers” g) “other members of the trade organizations to which I belong” h) “other members of the professional organizations to which I belong”, i) “other members of the social organizations to which I belong” j) “other external contacts” and k) “the people I generally talk to about business matters”. These variables were recoded so that if “none” of a group was the same sex as the respondent, this was coded 0. If “all” of a group of ties was the same sex, this was coded 100. “Some” was coded 25, “about half” coded 50 and “most” coded 75, so that a network composition score could theoretically range from 0 to 100. This data was summed and averaged to create a composite variable measuring homogeneity (Cronbach’s ∂ = 0.91). A network score of 0 equals a perfectly heteroge­neous network whereas a network score of 100 indicates a perfectly homogeneous network.

30In addition to these measures, data was requested on respondents’ age, marital status, ethnicity and sexual orientation. In order to ascertain firm size, respondents were asked whether they employed others, and the number of employees. To gauge firm maturity, respondents were asked to indi­cate the age of the firm in months, and their subjective view of the firm’s stage in the business cycle (the original categories available were “planning stage”, “new” “young” or “well-established” : in practice, no respondents selected “planning stage” and the “new” and “young” categories were recoded as one). Two measures of human capital are also included in the analysis below : holding a degree (0 = no degree, 1 = Bachelor’s degree or above) and prior experience running a firm (0 = no, 1 = yes).

C. Method of Analysis

31The data is first analysed descriptively, exploring differences between men in the female- and male-dominated sectors on demographic and firm-level characteristics. T tests are used to compare the continuous demographic characteristics, while Pearson chi-square is used to test for differen­ces in nominal characteristics between the subsamples. Independent t tests are used to compare perceived discrimination and preferential treatment. Bivariate correlations are used to examine the role of network homogeneity.

IV. Analysis

A. Descriptive Data

32Table 1 displays variables representing selected characteristics of the two subsamples. Several differences can be discerned. Men owners in the female-dominated sector are younger than those in the male-dominated sector, although insignificantly so. Given the relative newness of the male-owned childcare firm, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that these firms are younger than those that are more traditional for men, t(89) = 2.14, p<.05. Owners in the female-dominated sector are more highly educated than ow­ners in the male-dominated sector : 39.7 percent of the latter hold a Bachelor’s degree compared to 69.2 percent of the former, 2(4) = 17.97, p<.001. A sizeable proportion of both subsamples have prior experience in running a business. Men in the female-dominated sector employ fewer staff than men owners of firms in the male-dominated industries, although the difference is not statistically significant, t(87) = 1.21, p = .231. Men in the male-dominated sectors work longer weekly hours than men in the fe­male-dominated sector, t(87) = 4.63, p<.001.

  • 9 Notes : *under 18 and living at home, **includes bisexual and “other” categories but excludes refus (...)

Table 1 : Select characteristics, owners in male-dominated and female-dominated sectors9.

Male dominated (n = 62)

Female dominated (n = 31)

Mean age (years)

47.1

43.2

% Married or cohabiting

70.5

69.2

% with children*

32.2

61.5

% Run a firm before

66.7

72.4

% with degree or above

39.7

69.2

Sexual Orientation (%)

   Heterosexual

93.7

48.3

   Homosexual

3.2

37.9

   Others**

0

6.9

Ethnicity (%) :

   Asian/Asian-American

4.8

10.3

   Middle Eastern

6.3

6.9

   Black/African-American

3.2

17.2

   White/Caucasian

71.4

58.6

   Hispanic/Latino

3.2

6.9

   Other ethnicities***

11.1

0

Mean hours of work

56.4

47.6

Mean firm age (months)

205.43

133.45

Has employees (%)

91.8

89.7

Mean no. of employees

40.85

17.30

Mean network homogeneity

81.12

39.43

33There are interesting patterns in relation to ethnicity and sexual orientation. In this sample, it appears that a greater proportion of owners in the female- than the male-dominated sectors are from ethnic minorities. For example, just 3.2 percent of owners in the male-dominated sectors descri­be themselves as Black/African-American compared to 17.2 percent of owners in the female-dominated sector. And 71.4 percent of owners in the male-dominated sectors are White/Caucasian compared to 58.6 percent of owners in the female-dominated sector. Said differently, 41.4 percent of owners in the female-dominated sector are non-White compared to 28.6 percent of owners in the male-dominated sectors. Finally, there are large differences in the reported sexual orientation of businessmen. Almost 94 percent of respondents in the male-dominated sectors reported their sexual orientation as heterosexual, compared to less than half in the female-domi­nated sector.

34Finally, network homogeneity differs between the subsamples. The average owner of a firm in the male-dominated sectors had a network that was 81 per cent male. The networks of owners in the female-dominated sector were more diverse – on average, 39 percent of nontraditional ow­ners’ networks were male (that is, 61 percent of network contacts were female).

B. Discrimination

35Recall that an individual who indicated having experienced discrimination from each of the six sources was scored 6 : a respondent who reported no discrimination was scored 0. Overall, reports of discrimination are fairly low with no individual owner reporting experiencing discrimination from all six sources. Nevertheless, there are differences in reported experience of discrimination according to sex-domination of sector : men in the female-dominated sectors (mean discrimination score = 1.28, standard deviation = 1.22) reported significantly higher levels of perceived sex discrimination than men in the male-dominated sectors (mean discrimination score = 0.32, Standard deviation = 0.69), t(35.32) = 14.66, p<.000.

  • 10 A possible explanation for this result is that US government procurement policy is geared towards i (...)

36Table 2 reports the raw percentages of each sample of men indicating that they had experienced discrimination on the basis of their gender. The results show that men owners of firms in the female-dominated sector perceive greater gender discrimination than men owners in the male-domi­na­ted from all five stated sources : customers, staff, colleagues, suppliers and financial institutions. Only from sources in the “other” category did ow­ners of firms in the male-dominated sectors actually perceive greater gender discrimination than men in the female-dominated sectors, although this difference is not statistically significant10.

37Finally, a bivariate correlation of discrimination and network homoge­neity for the full sample show a negative relationship between the varia­bles : Pearson’s r = -.46, p<.001. This suggests that reports of gender discrimination increase as network homogeneity falls.

  • 11 Notes : n in parentheses, *p<.05, ** p<.01 ***p<.001.

Table 2 : Proportion reporting experience of discrimination, by source and sample, pearson Chi-Square analyses11.

% saying “yes”

Customers

Staff

Colleagues

Suppliers

Financial Institutions

Other

All (93)

8.3

9.1

11.6

3.3

3.3

14.9

Male

dominated (62)

6.3

0

3.2

3.2

0

19.0

Female

dominated (31)

13.8

37.9

41.4

6.9

13.8

13.8

2 (df)

6.84 (1)**

24.95 (1)***

27.56 (1)***

4.09 (1)*

8.36 (1)**

.60 (1)

C. Preferential Treatment

38Reported preferential treatment was very low, with the mean for men in the male-dominated industries at just 0.62 (SD = 1.04), and 0.76 for men in the female-dominated industries (SD = 1.12). The slight difference is in­significant, t(89) = -1.081, p = .283. Table 3 reports the raw percentages of both samples of men indicating that they had experienced preferential treatment on the basis of their gender.

  • 12 Notes : n in parentheses, *p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

Table 3 : Proportion reporting experience of preferential treatment by source and sample, pearson Chi-Square analyses12.

% saying “yes”

Customers

Staff

Colleagues

Suppliers

Financial Institutions

Other

All (93)

18.7

12.1

4.4

2.2

5.5

18.3

Male

dominated (62)

6.7

6.7

6.7

3.3

8.3

21

Female

dominated (31)

41.9

22.6

0

0

0

12.9

2 (df)

16.74(1)***

4.87(1)*

2.16(1)

1.05(1)

2.73(1)

.90 (1)

39The results show that men in the male-dominated sectors reported perceiving greater preferential treatment than men in the female dominated sector from four sources : colleagues, suppliers, financial institutions and the “other” category. However, the differences were not significant, and it should be noted that the numbers are very small. For example, the 8.3 percent of men in the male-dominated industries that reported preferential treatment from financial institutions equates to just 5 respondents. Owners in the female-dominated industries perceived greater preferential treat­ment than owners in the male-dominated industry from two sources, customers and staff, these differences did reach statistical significance. A bivariate correlation of preferential treatment and network homogeneity shows no statistically significant relationship between the variables : Pearson’s r = .020 p = .85.

V. Discussion

40Until now, efforts to understand the experience of those participating in nontraditional activities have focused on the experiences of women in employment. This paper represents an explorative attempt to investigate the perceptions of men business owners operating in one sector that is not traditional for their sex – the child day care sector. Two contrasting theoretical frameworks guided this study. Gender congruency theory suggests that men, like women, are penalized for violating gender norms, while shifting standards theory argues that individuals pursuing atypical activities are re­warded for their unusual, minority status. The predictions of these theories were explored herein using a sample of business owners in the childcare, sound recording and construction industries in New York City.

41The findings that emerge from this study are threefold. Firstly, and contrary to the inferences of the existing literature, men owners of childcare firms do perceive discrimination against them. This is an important finding for it is often assumed that business ownership offers an escape from labour market discrimination for minorities (Davidson/Fielden/Omar, 2010). That men that work in childcare occupations suffer from a lack of credibility and the belief that they may present a risk to children is well re­ported (Allan, 1993 ; Cameron et al., 1999) : this has been identified by policymakers as a key barrier to the greater participation of men in childcare (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2005). This however is the first study that has presented evidence that male childcare business owners also experience discrimination. It is particularly interesting that the descriptive data shows that discrimination was aimed at men from several sources, particularly colleagues and staff, whereas the occupational literature typically depicts parents as suspicious of male childcarers (Cameron, 1999). This may be a localized finding given the so-called fad for male childcarers in New York City. Given the small sample size herein, the effect of business size on perceptions of discrimination could not be investigated. The sample of male childcare business owners is comprised of both large businesses (maximum number of employees = 120) and the self-employed without employees, and these groups may experience very different levels and forms of discrimination. Furthermore, while I did not explicitly collect data on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a very large proportion of the respondents were gay or non-heterosexual, and the literature on male gay business owners in other sectors is suggestive of significant implicit and indirect homophobia against this group (Galloway, 2012). The precise nature of the discrimination experienced by men in the childcare industry requires further investigation.

42Secondly, this investigation revealed little support for the claims of shifting standards theory. Overall, perceptions of preferential treatment were small, although some male owners of childcare firms reported preferential treatment from customers. Again, this finding may be related to the “manny” phenomenon – parents of New York City children may prefer a male to a female caregiver. The preference for a male childcarer is said to be greater among single mothers, who may seek a positive male role model for their children, or by parents of boys. Two news articles reported in Scrinzi (2010 :55) argues that male child caregivers

are presented as “fun”, “sport guys”, who offer children (especially boys) the opportunity to have an active life, rather than simply sitting indoors… a family with boys often prefers male au pair because they can play football and do all the usual rough-and-tumble things that boys like.

43While there are many journalistic reports of a growing demand for – and supply of – male childcare workers, this warrants further scholarly at­tention, particularly from the perspective of the self-employed. On the whole however, the evidence points to greater negative than positive discrimination against male owners of childcare businesses.

44Finally, the data suggests that incidence of discrimination are negatively associated with network homogeneity. The finding that discrimination increases as the homogeneity of networks falls could be interpreted that females are responsible for much of the discrimination against men ow­ners of childcare firms. In this sample, the vast differences in network ho­mogeneity scores suggests that owners in the male-dominated sectors ten­ded to network with other men, while the owners in the childcare sector tended to network with women, but also a relatively large proportion of men. Those networking decisions may account for the experience of discrimination. Said differently, owners with networks that are populated by members of their own sex experienced less discrimination than those with predominately other-sex networks. The descriptive data showed that the main sources of discrimination were colleagues (i.e. partners or other business owners) and members of staff. The content of these discriminatory practices is not known and worthy of further investigation.

45Before concluding, a few limitations are given. Firstly, the sample size is very small, related to the relatively small number of men self-employed in the childcare sector. In addition, these findings may be localized, given the relatively high levels of self-employment generally, and in childcare in the New York City area. Accordingly, these results may not be generaliza­ble beyond the current case. Secondly, given the substantial diversity of the sample in terms of sexual orientation and ethnicity, it is possible that survey respondents misinterpreted the question relating to discrimination. The question asked : «Thinking just about your commercial relationships, have you or your business ever experienced discrimination because of your gender ? » – the word “gender” was underlined in the original survey. This was an attempt to disentangle gender discrimination from other types of discrimination (such as that on the basis of race or age), but gender and sexual orientation may have been conflated in the minds of some of the respondents. To check understanding I performed independent sam­ples t tests of the composite measure of discrimination with ethnicity (White, non White) and sexual orientation (heterosexual, non-heterosex­ual). Both tests yielded insignificant results which would suggest that respondents had interpreted the question as relating to gender discrimination only. However, the high degree of diversity of the sample of childcare ow­ners may have masked discrimination on the basis of other characteristics. Further research is required to unravel this possibility.

VI. Conclusion

46The experiences of men business owners in sectors where they are minorities are not well understood. The results of this study suggest that men owners of childcare firms experience discrimination, and the sources of this discrimination are different when compared to male childcare wor­kers. Given the explorative nature of this study, these findings should be used as starting point for further investigation into the content of that discrimination. Ticking boxes and providing brief answers to closed-ended survey questions tells us nothing about subtleties of interaction : qualitative data would add a deeper and more meaningful angle to this research question. The fact that discrimination occurs at all is captured here through quantitative research but richer information about the micro-level processes involved when business owners activate and engage in business relationships can only be uncovered by qualitative research.

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Annexe

Structured summary

Purpose : This paper takes as its starting point three key oversights in the extant literature on occupational segregation by gender. The first oversight is that, while scholars have examined segregation at almost every conceivable occupational level (e.g. job, hierarchy, branch, establishment), entrepreneurial segregation – the concentration of men and women business owners into sex-segregated sectors –remains vastly understudied. Secondly, it is observed that gender segregation is typically studied from the perspective of women, and there are relatively few published accounts of the experiences of men in traditionally female roles. Finally, gender segregation is generally treated as an affliction that gives rise to a host of negative outcomes for women. Scholars highlight, for example, the deleterious impact of segregation in terms of pay differentials, and the poor experiences and prospects of women in underrepresented fields, but pay far less attention to the positive consequences, such as job satisfaction. The purpose of this paper is to address these gaps by exploring the perceptions of men business owners operating in a sector that is typically dominated by women – the childcare sector – comparing them to the experiences of men operating firms in more traditional fields, such as construction.

Methodology :Given the lack of scholarly attention paid to the position of self-employed men in childcare, a descriptive, explorative approach is adopted. The paper draws on data from an online survey of 93 randomly selected New York City based men business owners in the sound recording and construction (male dominated) and childcare (female-dominated) sectors. Respondents identified experiences of positive and negative discrimination against them, the sources of that discrimination as well as data on the gender homogeneity of their business networks. The data is first analyzed descriptively, exploring differences between men in the female- and male-dominated sectors on demographic and firm-level characteristics. Tests of difference are used to compare perceived discrimination and preferential treatment. Bivariate correlations are used to examine the role of network homogeneity.

Findings : While reports of negative discrimination are fairly low, men in the female-dominated sectors reported significantly higher levels of perceived sex discrimination than men in the male-dominated sectors. A significant bivariate correlation of discrimination and network homogeneity suggests that reports of gender discrimination increase as network homogeneity falls. The slight difference in reported positive discrimination between men in the male and female dominated sectors does not reach statistical significance.

Originality/Value : That men that work in childcare occupations suffer from a lack of credibility and the belief that they may present a risk to children is well reported to be a key barrier to the greater participation of men in childcare. However, this is the first study that has presented evidence that male childcare business owners also experience discrimination. This is an important finding for it is often assumed that business ownership offers an escape from labour market discrimination for minorities.  

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Notes

1 Source : US Census Bureau, 2011, Table 11. Publicly owned businesses excluded. Definitions are as follows. Female-owned businesses are those in which women own at least 51 percent of the interest, stock or equity of the business, male-owned are those in which men own at least 51 percent of the interest, stock or equity of the business and equally male-/female-owned are those in which there is a 50-percent male and 50-percent female ownership of the interest, stock or equity of the business.

2 The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a hierarchical schema consisting of two- to six- digit industry classifications. The number of industries ranges from 20 two-digit industries to 1175 six-digit industries. Most analyses take place on the two-digit classification because this data is most commonly reported in Census Bureau statistics.

3 During this time period, 51.9% of female and 28.4% of male sole proprietorships were found in just 10 activities : carpentering and floor contractors, miscellaneous specialty trade contractors, door-to-door sales, real estate agents and brokers, beauty shops, miscellaneous personal services, janitorial and rela­ted services to buildings, other business services, child day care, and consulting and research.

4 Self-employment levels in the childcare industry are generally very high : in 2008, there were 428,500 self-employed childcare workers alongside 859,200 waged-and-salaried staff (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

5 The term “manny” was coined by Holly Peterson in a 2002 article in the New York Times.

6 Particularly where hiring decision makers are also male (see Allan J., 1993).

7 In the UK, for example, one-quarter of men working in nursery and primary schools are head teachers, while less than 8 percent of women attain this grade (see Bolton S. C. , Muzio D., 2008).

8 It is noteworthy that initially, five sectors (two male and two female-dominated, and one mixed) were sought, but it was not possible to find any other sector beyond childcare services that could be deemed to be truly female-dominated. Even in cosmopolitan New York City, the number of recorded male-ow­ned firms significantly outnumbers women-owned firms in such “traditionally female” sectors as floristry, secretarial services, wedding planning, women’s clothing retail and household cleaning (ReferenceUSA, 2009).

9 Notes : *under 18 and living at home, **includes bisexual and “other” categories but excludes refusals and missing, *** includes Indian, Native American, “Other” category.

10 A possible explanation for this result is that US government procurement policy is geared towards in­creasing the number of contracts with female- and minority-owned firms. This policy has implications for the construction industry in particular. Certified woman-owned construction firms are added to a list which is passed to large corporations and state/federal entities who are seeking contracts with minority/female-owned businesses.

11 Notes : n in parentheses, *p<.05, ** p<.01 ***p<.001.

12 Notes : n in parentheses, *p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1 : Business ownership by sex of owner and two-digit industry classification, 20071.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/rsa/docannexe/image/1066/img-1.png
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Natalie Sappleton, « When the “Manny” is the Boss. An Exploratory Study into Discrimination and Preferential Treatment Perceived by Men Childcare Business Owners », Recherches sociologiques et anthropologiques, 44-2 | 2013, 93-113.

Référence électronique

Natalie Sappleton, « When the “Manny” is the Boss. An Exploratory Study into Discrimination and Preferential Treatment Perceived by Men Childcare Business Owners », Recherches sociologiques et anthropologiques [En ligne], 44-2 | 2013, mis en ligne le 20 janvier 2014, consulté le 12 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/rsa/1066 ; DOI : 10.4000/rsa.1066

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Natalie Sappleton

Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

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