Parenthood and Entrepreneurship in 2019: Study Reveals Gender Gap in Funding and Childcare Responsibilities Among Male and Female Founders with Kids

Research from 99designs reveals fathers who own a business secure significantly more external capital than mothers, while over half of mothers clock up a full-time ‘second shift’ in care-giving roles
9 May 2019
Parenting and owning a business are two of the most challenging and rewarding things on the planet. But a recent survey of almost 1,900 entrepreneurs from around the world by 99designs reveals that women face many added challenges in balancing the roles of being both a parent and an entrepreneur. 
Specifically, women with children are more likely to be running a business with much less funding (47% of fathers report having raised over $US50,000 of external capital for their businesses vs. just 28% of mothers), while they are also much more likely to be serving as the primary childcare giver in the household (54% vs. only 37% of male founders with children). In fact, almost a third of female founders put in more than 50 hours per week on childcare on top of running their business. This compares to only 10% of founder fathers who spend 50 hours or more per week on childcare.
In addition, founders who are mothers are also more likely to be regularly giving up their time to volunteer at not-for-profit organisations and charities than any other group (78% vs 62% of dads who run their own business).
These are just a few of the topline findings from global creative platform 99designs, which polled small business owners from around the world to learn what it’s really like to juggle a family and a business, and how this experience differs by gender.

“Being an entrepreneur is tough, but doing it as a parent - and particularly as a mother - is even tougher,” said 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn. “The data shows the vast majority of care-giving responsibility falls on women and this ultimately contributes to both financial and labor inequality. With well over a million customers and designers having worked on our platform, we know many of them are balancing the role of entrepreneur and parent, and we think it’s important to shine a light on the sheer effort that goes into making a small business successful, both at work and at home.”
The funding gap between founders who are mothers and fathers is reflected across all stages of business growth:
  • 11% of male founders with children have raised between $US50,000 - $US99,000 vs 6% of female founders who have kids
  • 36% of founder fathers have raised over $US100,000 vs 22% of founder mothers
In real terms, around half of mothers are working the equivalent of an extra full-time working week thanks to childcare responsibilities:
  • 30% of business-owning mums are putting in 50+ hours of childcare each week on top of their day jobs, compared to just 10% of founder dads
  • Another 21% of female founders who have kids spend 31-49 hours on childcare each week vs 12% of fathers
Female founders are more generous with their time when it comes to the community:
  • Overall, 71% of female entrepreneurs (parents and non-parents) volunteer vs 61% of male entrepreneurs (parents and non-parents)
  • Mothers in this group are even more likely to give up their time, with 78% regularly volunteering to help not-for-profit organisation compared to 62% of founder fathers.
  • 69% of single parents also volunteer personally.
Parental attitudes to entrepreneurship are shifting with the generations:  
  • 43% of entrepreneurs had at least one parent who ran their own business. 
  • However most (72%) were not encouraged to think of entrepreneurship as a good career option when they were young. 
  • Only 21% of women were encouraged to start their own business by their parents compared to 31% of men.
  • But this is changing: 82% of founders with kids would actively encourage their own children to take an entrepreneurial path.
  • Only 2% said they would discourage their children from starting a business. 
  • Interestingly, single parent entrepreneurs are even more likely (89%) to actively encourage their children to become an entrepreneur. 
Parents are confident their small businesses will grow:
  • 77% of mothers expect their business revenue to grow in 2019 compared to 82% of founder fathers.  
  • 53% of founders who are mothers are solopreneurs, and 40% have between 2-10 employees.
  • 40% of father founders surveyed are solopreneurs, and 49% have between 2-10 employees. 

About 99designs:

99designs is the global creative platform that makes it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. Founded in 2008, 99designs has grown from a small, online forum into a worldwide community of talented designers that is now the go-to solution for businesses, agencies and individuals. With headquarters in Melbourne, Australia 99designs has operations in Oakland, California and Berlin, Germany. 
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