Gender differences in pay are ubiquitous at all organisational levels including at the top. Entrepreneurship is hailed as one way for women to circumvent organizational norms and discrimination, because as CEOs of their own organizations, entrepreneurs largely determine their own pay. Moreover, social entrepreneurship may be a particularly gender-blind occupational choice; evidence indicates that women are more likely to start a social enterprise. This opens the question of whether at the top of social enterprises we may see little or no gender pay gap.
Our research looks at the gender pay gap among social entrepreneurs, using a unique dataset, Social Enterprise as Lead Users of Service Innovation (SELUSI). We employ a respondent driven sampling method to capture a representative sample of UK social entrepreneurs. This method addresses a key problem – that there is as yet no information on the underlying population of social entrepreneurs. We use the SELUSI dataset to identify whether gender pay and satisfaction gaps exist in social enterprises, as well as their scale and determinants.
We find that even as social entrepreneurs, women earn 29% less annual salary (27% hourly wages) than their male colleagues. This is a greater unadjusted gap than the UK average of 20% based on hourly wages. Controlling for demographic, human capital, job, social business, personal preference and values characteristics, we estimate an adjusted pay gap of about 23% for the annual salary of social entrepreneurs (20% for hourly wages).
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