National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women: Forty Years of Work 1967-2007
Women in Enterprise
At the 1966 census, 11.3% of women were self-employed. In its initial years, the issues of women in enterprise did not figure on NACEW's agenda. Yet, in the 1980s, when there were dramatic changes in employment with high unemployment and disappearing industries, the government introduced job creation schemes that encouraged initiative and enterprise. A substantial number of women took up self-employment during this time. In 1983, the Council did some preliminary work on alternative patterns of employment such as outwork and cooperatives, and looked at self-employment more generally. Now, around 40% of self-employed are women.
In 1993, NACEW's Suffrage Centennial year project focussed on women and self-employment and looked at the reasons for the growth in self-employed women. The project also documented women's experience of self-employment and an idea of the profile of such women. The research Te Wahine Hanga Mahi - Women and Self Employment found that:
- there had been an 11.3% increase in self employment amongst women in New Zealand in the previous five years, matching trends in many OECD countries.
- • for Māori and Pacific Island women, self-employment had become increasingly significant as total employment for these groups fell between 1986 and 1991.
- • women were more often in self-employment to balance work and personal/domestic commitments, because of career development frustrations, or to meet achievement or independence needs.
- • self-employed women were as likely to be employers as men, more likely to work from home and had a lower median income across all occupational groups.
- • the survival rates of women's businesses were roughly comparable to that of men's.
In 2002, the Māori and Pacific Women in Enterprise subgroup of NACEW began work on the project 'Discovering the Potential of Women in Small Business in New Zealand' to gain an understanding of the issues and needs of women in self-employment. First the group commissioned a report by the New Zealand Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Research at Massey University Discovering the potential of women in small business which was released in 2004. There were two parts to this report, one qualitative and the other quantitative. One finding of the study was that self-employed women have a number of similar characteristics to women employees. However, self-employed women generally have lower incomes than their male counterparts, are more likely to be part-time working proprietors and their businesses are clustered in a narrow range of industry sectors.
In 2006/07, three brochures in the series, 'If you could be anything.....what will it be?" were produced. The brochures contained three case studies of successful Māori, Pacific and Asian women in business, and aimed to help Māori and Pacific women make informed choices when considering self-employment. The first brochure was aimed at Māori and Pacific women of all ages, the second at senior secondary school girls, and the third at unemployed women.
 NACEW Annual Report 1983, p. 3.
 Gray Matter Research Limited, Rivers Buchan and Associates. Women and self employment = Te wahine hanga mahi, Wellington 1993.
 NACEW Annual Report 1993/94, p.2.