Abstract: Life Satisfaction and Economic Justice Is It a Reality for Women of Color Entrepreneurs? (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

216P Life Satisfaction and Economic Justice Is It a Reality for Women of Color Entrepreneurs?

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ali-Sha Alleman, Ph.D., MSW, Assistant Professor, Radford University, Radford, VA
Background and Purpose: There is limited research that examines women of color lived experiences as employees and as entrepreneurs as it relates to life satisfaction and economic justice. Women of color entrepreneurs are more likely to engage in entrepreneurship out of financial necessity, considering the high risk involved. The economic returns are lower for most women of color entrepreneurs than female wage earners and external financial investors are limited; yet, life satisfaction offsets this disparity.

This research explored women of color perceived life satisfaction by documenting the narratives of their lived experiences as employees versus entrepreneurs. Study participants discussed issues of race, uncertainty of entrepreneurship, and strategies of overcoming economic insecurity. This presentation will feature participant narratives.

Methods: Snowball sampling was used to recruit and conduct semi-structured interviews with fifteen women of color entrepreneurs. Study participants were diverse in ethnic composition, marital status, education level, family status, professional identity, extent of entrepreneurial experience and industry. The approach used a phenomenological approach to capture what is at the core of being a woman of color entrepreneur, by interviewing those who have five years or more as a full-time entrepreneur.
Participant demographics were predominantly African American, with one Latina woman and one Korean woman, both identified as immigrants. Most of the participants were highly educated in a committed relationship with varying parental status. Entrepreneurial experience ranged from five years to ten plus years. Thirty-three percent (n= 4) of the women had five years of experience, 33 percent (n=4) had six to ten years experience, and thirty three percent (n=4) had more than ten years of experience. The participant’s industries included gender typical industries such as food service, salon ownership and day care. Other industries included entrepreneurial coaching, human services, business consulting, and entertainment business. Participant narratives were transcribed verbatim and thematically coded using Atlas TI software guided by phenomenology principles.

Results: Women of color entrepreneurs’ narratives of their lived experiences culminated into seven categories: motivation, emotional/physical health, attitudes towards risk, family support, intersectionality, resilience, and interpretation of life satisfaction; and 20 themes (e.g. workplace rigidity, spirituality, freedom, and a holistic view of life satisfaction). (Findings suggested life satisfaction as entrepreneurs despite economic, regulatory, gender and racial barriers).

Conclusions and Implications: The economic well-being of the mother has a domino effect on the economic and psychosocial well-being of the family. It is imperative to engage social work practitioners in a conversation about entrepreneurship as an aspect of asset building and financial capability toward economic well-being. Understanding the benefits and the pitfalls of entrepreneurship can enable social workers to better educate and counsel women from across cultures as they consider business ownership as an option to self-determination. Specialized case management, family and financial readiness assessments are all proposed skill building initiatives for social work education.