Project 1c : Social Economy and Gender in Canada's North

Project Completed


Completed Thesis: 
Women at the Heart of the Social Economy: What Motivates Women to Work in the Social Economy in Whitehorse, Yukon.

PowerPoint Presentation:
Women in the SE PDF
 

Thesis Abstract

This thesis looks at the importance of women in the social economy in Whitehorse and the motivations influencing women's participation in this sector of the economy. Women's involvement in the traditional economy has been very different from that of men; historically women have been largely excluded from paid labour. Women have different life experiences, needs, and social and familial responsibilities than men, which are shaped by their respective roles in society (Canadian Women's Community Economic Development Council, 2005, pg 1). The focus of this thesis is on identifying the important and unique role of women in this northern social economy and to identify the motivations to their involvement as well as the issues women face working in this sector.

The social economy is often seen as an alternative to the traditional economy allowing a more collective and cooperative atmosphere that may be more inviting to women. Women and women's organizations have a long history working in the informal collective and cooperative structured economies (CWCEDC, 2005, pg 28). The methodology for this thesis is primarily qualitative. Semi-structured interviews were conducted; 20 women working in the social economy in Whitehorse were interviewed and asked about their individual experiences and motivations for working in this sector of the economy. The interviews were conducted over a 3 week period in November 2008, in Whitehorse, Yukon. The SERNNoCa portraiture survey was used to draw an initial sample of potential interview participants, a snowball sampling technique was also applied. The research was analyzed by coding the data into common themes of motivation found throughout the interview information.

In examining the interview data there were five themes found to contribute to the motivations of women working in the social economy. These themes were: sense of community, the need to create change, personal beliefs and goals, feelings of responsibility, and economic influence. Sub-themes were then created to analyze the interview data of each research participant and examine the way that the themes of motivation affected women's choice to participate in the social economy in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Summary Report: Coming Soon
 

Research Team

Chris Southcott, Lakehead University
Tomiko Hoshizaki, Masters student, Lakehead University; email: thoshiza@lakeheadu.ca

For more details contact Chris Southcott at Chris_Southcott@lakeheadu.ca

Project Description

This projects looks at the importance of women in the social economy and the motivations of women participating in this sector of the economy. Women's involvement in the traditional economy has been very different from that of men; historically women have been largely excluded from the economy. Women have different life experiences, needs, and responsibilities then men, which are shaped by their respective roles in society (Canadian Women's Community Economic Development Council, 2005, pg 1). The focus of this thesis will be on identifying the important and unique role of women in the social economy and to identify the motivations to their involvement as well as the issues women face working in this sector.

The purpose of this study is to explore the role that women play in the social economy in Whitehorse; examining the motivations behind their participation in this sector of the economy. The social economy is often seen as an alternative to the traditional economy allowing a more collective and cooperative atmosphere that may be more inviting to women. Women and women's organizations have a long history working in the informal collective and cooperative structured economies (CWCEDC, 2005, pg 28). The methodology for this thesis will be primarily qualitative. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted to examine the individual experience of women working in the social economy in the Yukon. The SERNNoCa portraiture survey will be used to draw an initial sample of potential interview participants, a snowball sampling technique will then be applied. The data will be analyzed to identify possible themes of motivation for women's participation in the social economy in Whitehorse.

The research will result in publications in academic journals - Journal of the Arctic, Northern Review. Also there will be a community report and/or presentation, and information posted on SERNNoCa website.  The research is part of the students Masters thesis.

Methodology

Based on the literature review it was decided that the most effective means of determining why women choose to work in the social economy is to ask them; many of the research studies examined in the literature review cited the interview method as most beneficial in developing a clear understanding of the experiences of women. The best way to develop a true understanding of the motivations and personal experiences of women working in the social economy in Whitehorse is to go to the women currently working in this sector and ask them about what motivates them in their work and about what impacts their experience in this area of work. In the literature review it became clear that women have had different life experiences than men and are impacted in a unique way by the economy and labour. For this research it is clear that the women need to be given the opportunity to express their individual thoughts, feelings and ideas about the work they do in the social economy. In Mary Crnkovich's book 'Gossip: A Spoken History of Women in the North' she examines the real lives of women in the north and relies on women's personal interpretations of everyday experiences. In the introduction Crnkovich notes that 'the insights and analyses offered in Gossip are northern-based and women entered'Women are seldom afforded the opportunity to tell their story in their way' (1990, pg xvi). In this view, research that is directed toward the real lives of women and their experiences should allow the women interviewees to express themselves in their own words and in their own way. Research that is focused on women does not always express the views that were intended by the woman. Crnkovich believes that it is especially important and insightful for women to express themselves on the issues that are important in their lives (1990, pg xvi).  This study examined issues of motivation, participation, membership, and the individual experiences of women and their involvement in the social economy in Whitehorse Canada. The qualitative data that was collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with women who are currently working in the social economy in the Canadian North helps to better understand the importance of the experience of women involved in the social economy. The interview participants included women that were currently involved within social economy organizations and businesses in the north.

Findings

The data in this study was analyzed and coded to find commonalities in the motivations that the women research participants had for working in the social economy in Whitehorse. The analysis found that there were 5 major themes of motivation: sense of community, the need to create change, personal beliefs and goals, feelings of responsibility, and economic influence. The data that was collected from the interviews was transcribed; allowing for subsequent readings. Reading the interview data over looking for specific areas where interview participants noted motivations, interest, feelings and thoughts about their work in the social economy allowed for a thorough understanding of the material and the development of the themes. Once the themes were apparent the data was coded to highlight these themes. In addition to the themes the data was analyzed to find inter-related connections and social processes. The themes were inter-connected to each other as well as linked to the overarching theme of gender. The analysis was developed to identify the motivations to women's work in the social economy and to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of women working in the social economy.

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