Women in business pay themselves less

Women who write their own pay cheques, pay themselves less than men. Why is this? Catherine Devine reports. 

Female entrepreneurs pay themselves 23 percent less than their male counterparts, according to researchers at the London School of Economics.

In Ireland, male entrepreneurs outnumber female entrepreneurs 2.1: 1, and men are 12 percent more likely to become employers within the first five years of starting their company in comparison to women, says the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).

According to GEM, men aspire to build wealth in their business and develop faster than their female counterparts and this leads to a higher paycheque. Studies have shown that women are afraid of taking the risk of investment and loans or prefer to use their profits to sustain the company. Hence, their paycheques are less.

I launched myself out of my pocket

Joanne Sweeney-Burke, the founder of Digital Training Institute, author & TEDx speaker, re-invested her capital into her business rather than looking for outside funding. “I launched myself out of my pocket. Publishing my book is one example. I’ve done it without state agency investment because I was too impatient for their ‘oh I think you will do it anyway attitude’. So reinvesting is a big priority for me.”

Joanne, who is a mother of two and a frequent visitor to the US, where she speaks about her book to law enforcement officers, said that it can be difficult at times to get the right balance between family life and her business. “You are always in danger of letting somebody down. The nature of a working mum is to please everyone and prioritise everyone but that’s not possible. What results is a fear to get any bigger in case your home life suffers more.”


“The nature of a working mum is to please everyone and prioritise everyone but that’s not possible. What results is a fear to get any bigger in case your home life suffers more”


Aideen O’Grady, director of Starcamp, says that motherhood splits women from the workplace. “Despite the fact that I was on my laptop while I was in labour with all three births and returned to work within three days of their arrival – it was not enough. I could not keep doing my job as I had done before I had children. The same focus is simply impossible in my view,” she said. Aideen is a Dragon’s Den winner and Network Business Women of the Year 2014/2015. She also has three kids under the age of four, one being six months old. But she says, “I will be back on track following my hopes and dreams and reaching my targets and goals very soon, but having kids will slow us down and keep women in general behind men on an income scale.”

Aideen says that there is less of a divide in pay between the sexes who are under 25, as when women begin to have children, they begin to lag behind their male colleagues regarding advancement and pay.

women and pay rates

Women are also still being held back in the business industry by sexism and discrimination. Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer was a victim of sexist stereotyping when many leading news organisations ran headlines such as ‘Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pregnant with twin girls’. This kind of headline would only be story-worthy if the CEO were a male and conceived twins. Otherwise, it has nothing to do with the corporate world and should not gain media attention.

Confidence, ambition and motivation

But behind every successful woman is a group of women cheering her on. There is an increasing number of women entrepreneurs forming groups and helping each other throughout Ireland. Paula Fitzsimons, the National Director of ‘Going for Growth’, has worked with over 400 female entrepreneurs. “I’ve seen an increase in their confidence, ambition and motivation, as well as an increase in their sales and employment levels,” said Paula.

Women face a lot more barriers than men, and many choose to raise their children while trying to balance a career. While women are still earning less than men, they are continuing to define success in their ways. Joanne Sweeney-Burke says, “it’s down to growing bigger female ‘balls’ and being coached to push us through the glass ceiling that we have put on ourselves”.

READ MORE: The Revenue Commissioners have changed the rules for how businesses can pay certain expenses to their directors and staff without deducting PAYE.