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Claire Harnett


Dr Christine Cross  &  Dr Caroline Murphy

Working Title of Thesis:

Taking the high road or low road? An examination of job quality in male and female owned businesses in Ireland


Both at a European and national level, job creation has featured progressively on the political agenda. One focus in particular has been on the encouragement of entrepreneurs to set up new businesses in a hope that they will create jobs. While these jobs are crucial for the economy, the International Economic Development Council (2010) suggest that economic growth is becoming progressively divided, high-wage jobs in the technology sector on one hand and low wage service sector jobs on the other. This divide creates gendered labour market segmentation as workers engaged in non-standard, low quality employment are predominantly female.

Whilst the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (2014) has highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in creating jobs, there has as yet been limited investigation of   the quality of the jobs derived from efforts to increase levels of entrepreneurship. Research conducted in Ireland shows that male and female entrepreneurs have different perspectives as to what constitutes a good quality job and that women are more likely to be associated with being employed in low quality jobs (McGowan et al. 2012). Therefore, an examination of how business ownership contributes to gendered labour market segmentation is warranted.

The overarching aim of this research is to examine the extent to which job quality differs between female owned businesses and male owned businesses. In order to investigate this question it is necessary to address four key research objectives; to identify the factors that account for the differences in job quality based on gender; to establish the extent to which there is a difference in perceived job quality between men and women; to identify measures male and female entrepreneurs’ themselves value in determining job quality; and to examine the quality of jobs created by both male and female entrepreneurs

In order to address the research question and objectives, a preliminary quantitative study will be conducted to provide a statistical overview of the gendered reality of job quality in recent years in Ireland.  This will be followed by a qualitative approach seeking richer information on perceptions and experiences of business owners in Ireland.