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Do enterprise support programmes leave women holding the baby?

Rouse, Julia C. and Kitching, J. (2006) Do enterprise support programmes leave women holding the baby? Environment and planning c: government and policy, 24 (1). pp. 5-19. ISSN 1472-3425

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Abstract

Using data from a longitudinal study of working-class participants on a youth enterprise start-up programme in the United Kingdom, we examine whether programmes aimed at disadvantaged groups enable parents to combine business trading with childcare responsibilities. Business planning and programme selection practices ignored childcare, rendering it a solely private matter, invisible to public scrutiny. Yet this childcare barrier became both a cause and a consequence of business failure. Participants' experiences of combining trading and childcare varied by gender. All mothers and one father had complex strategies for synchronising trading and childcare responsibilities. However, these strategies soon collapsed, contributing to business closure. Most fathers relied on the childrens' mother to organise and conduct continuous care, but this was dependent on fathers becoming breadwinners through profitable trading which was not achieved. There is growing policy recognition of the importance of the childcare barrier to paid work for lower income families and for self-employed women in the United Kingdom. However, despite recent initiatives, severe constraints remain for working-class parents to start and manage a business. Several implications for policy are discussed.

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