Self-employed leans more to entrenched gender roles for parents

The Judith Lumley Centre at Latrobe University has recently published research which indicates that self-employed workers often fall back to gender expectations while working at home in self-employed work.

Australian culture is at least partly responsible for this behaviour, where being a ‘good dad’ means earning a decent income while being a ‘good mum’ means being there for the children. In reality this translates to mothers working part-time while dads work longer hours.

The study concludes that this pattern was ‘slightly intensified’ in self-employment.

Dr. Amanda Cooklin from the Judith Lumley Centre researched the project which looked into whether moving into self-employment helped parents juggle work and family more successfully. The conclusions were not clear, but it appeared that women did not fare as well when both parents were self-employed, and the family reverted to more gender specific roles than those workers who were termed ‘organisationally employed’ workers.

Dr. Leach from the Research School of Population Health at ANU found a similar conclusion, with women returning to more gender specific roles and overall found their working at home less rewarding or enjoyable. Men, on the other hand, found fewer instances where family and work collided, and found more satisfaction in the balance between work and family.

Both studies concluded that while men actually appreciated the better balance in their lives, women appeared to lose out on the decision to work from home, losing hours of paid work to manage home duties, and therefore earned less money working from home than in structured employment. The impact on a woman’s superannuation would be considerable as well as that weekly pay packet.

Ref: Caitlin Fitzsimmons. Women’s Agenda

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact WR Law directly on (03) 5499 6131 or by email at

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