Get All Access for $5/mo

Why Single Women Are Quicker to Jump Into Entrepreneurship Single women and married women make the decision to be self-employed for different reasons, according to a new study. Here's a breakdown of their relative motivations.

By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Single women are becoming entrepreneurs at faster rates than both married women or men, according to government labor data.

New research from economist Carlianne Patrick of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University breaks down the factors that motivate women to become entrepreneurs based on their marital status.

"The reality is that married and unmarried women appear to be motivated by different factors," Patrick says in a press release accompanying the new research.

The reasons that anybody becomes an entrepreneur are often complicated and multifaceted. Both women and men, regardless of marital status, are often motivated to leave the corporate world in favor of self-employment for reasons other than money. The allure of a flexible schedule, complete control over your work and no commute are enough to convince a burned out, frustrated corporate soldier to sacrifice some money in the trade off, according to the report.

Related: Women Raise More Money With Crowdfunding, Research Shows

So what affects the decision of a married women to be her own boss?

Progressive gender roles

Married women who live in areas where the cultural perception of gender roles are more progressive are more likely to be self-employed. By contrast, the local perception of gender roles does not affect a single woman's decision to be her own boss, according to the findings.

"It appears that married women are more likely to be influenced by society's gender-role attitudes," the report says.

Young kids

Women who have children under 5 years old are motivated to be self employed. Often, mothers with young children opt to take time away from working for childcare, but becoming an entrepreneur is an alternative to completely leaving the workforce, the report says.

That finding can potentially be useful for local policy makers. "If women are choosing between not working and self-employment, then efforts to help them become self-employed will create a job and generate earnings for someone otherwise out of the labor force," Patrick says.

Related: What Sheryl Sandberg Would Have Told Her Younger Self

And how about single women? What factors influence an unmarried woman to be self-employed?


More so than their married colleagues, money is a motivating factor for unmarried women to become self-employed. Single women become entrepreneurs because they think they will make more money than they will as a salaried employee.


Single women who have higher confidence, as measured by the Rosenberg test scores, are more likely to be self-employed. Meanwhile, confidence is not a statistical determining factor for either married women or men to become self-employed, according to the report.

A local entrepreneurship community

The rates of entrepreneurship are higher among single women in areas where the rates of self-employment overall are higher, according to the research, which utilized geocoded data, or data connected to a particular location.

"Unmarried women enter self-employment where there are more opportunities and where there is a stronger entrepreneurial culture," the report says.

Related: Rent the Runway Just Launched a Competition and Mentorship Program for Women Entrepreneurs

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

Kyle Morrand and his college roommates loved playing retro video games — and the pastime would help launch his career.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

A Former Corporate Lawyer Now Makes Six Figures on YouTube — Here's How She Does It

Here are the secrets to starting and growing a successful YouTube channel, according to a YouTuber with millions of subscribers.

Growing a Business

How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Wondering how long your marketing emails should be? Here's what consumers say — so you can send them exactly what they like.

Business News

Y Combinator Helped Launch Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox. Here's What I Learned From Its Free Startup School.

The famed startup accelerator offers a free course on building a business — and answers five pressing questions for founders.