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Women suffer income drop after having children: Census data

Friday, 22 June 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Women face a significant drop in income if they have children, the latest census data reveals, but a mumpreneur says it takes more than a pay cut to prompt women to start their own business.

 

Newly released data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing shows the share of women who earn more than their partners has risen from 13% to 15% during the last five years.

 

For couples with no children, only 43.5% of males earn more than their female partners. However, in couples with children under 15, that figure jumps to almost 66%.

 

Among couples with adult, non-dependent children, the census found women were still earning much less than men. In this setup, 50% of men earn more than their female partners.

 

Carla Harris, executive manager for research at the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workforce Agency, said the census shows once women leave the workforce to have children, they are unlikely to regain their earning capacity.

 

“The key factor in women’s earning capacity is whether they have children,” Harris told The Australian Financial Review.

 

Mumpreneur Nikki Parkinson, founder of Styling You, says many women who return to work after having children do so on a part-time basis, which could explain the decline in their pay.

 

While not all women who return to work after having children choose to go part-time, Parkinson says they may take up a less demanding role, which, again, usually means less pay.

 

However, Parkinson doesn’t believe money is the motivating factor for women to leave a paid position and start their own business, saying flexibility is far more important.

 

“I know myself that when I became a mumpreneur – and it’s a very personal thing – I went back to working with an employer,” Parkinson says.

 

“I kind of knew that one of us had to be more flexible with regard to kids… It made for sense for that person to be me… Flexibility was the motivating factor for starting my own business.”

 

Parkinson says while mumpreneurs mightn’t make as much money at the start, they have the ability to ramp up or pare back their operations, depending on their other responsibilities.

 

“In my situation, I’ve got two teenagers and a seven-year-old, so I’m still very much needed,” she says.

 

“It’s school holidays so stuff is happening with the kids, and I’m actually delivering corporate blogging workshops in Sydney next week, so I need to get a stack of work done before I go.”

 

“If you’re working for someone else, it’s hard to skew it.”

 

Parkinson says having children changes your priorities, which is why so many female business owners are mumpreneurs.

 

“I think that’s the trend of women starting their business,” she says.

 

“Lots of mums who have something in the back of their mind realise, once they’ve had kids, that maybe it’s time to start their own business because you can make your own way then.”

 

“You’re not at the behest of an employer and an employer’s demands. All that energy is for you, not for someone else, and that is really rewarding.”