Gender In/equality in Worker-Owned Businesses - CLEO Skip to main content


Gender scholars have developed a significant body of scholarship on the reproduction of gender inequality in work organizations. However, the vast majority of that research has been conducted in non-profit organizations or in employer-owned businesses. In this article, we review the existing literature on gender in worker-owned businesses. We begin by defining three distinctly different types of worker-owned businesses: companies with employee stock ownership plans, worker cooperatives, and communes. Next we review the limited research on gender inequality in each of these organizational forms. The current literature finds that women benefit from working in these alternative organizations, but gender disparities nevertheless persist due to occupational segregation and the devaluation of domestic work. Exceptions are those organizations with strong ties to feminism and those with formal power-sharing policies. Granted the scarcity of research on this topic, however, these conclusions are tentative. We conclude with a discussion of areas for further research.

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