The Emergence of Women Entrepreneurship in Canada
Historically, women faced greater barriers than men in entrepreneurship. To name three:
1. Access to education – generally, entrepreneurs require knowledge or understanding of the field they attempt to innovate within, and much of this knowledge is usually obtained through education – due to gender-based barriers, many women lacked this needed foundation to start their own businesses,
2. Social stigma – For much of history, women were expected to be caretakers and homemakers, not income earners, and
3. Greater difficulty raising capital – due to the gender pay gap, women historically earned less than men. It logically follows that if women earn less income, there would be fewer women with sufficient capital to start new ventures.
The first 2 barriers have been equalized or are slowly equalizing. Women are surpassing men in higher education and notions of “gender appropriate” careers is but a relic in the Western world.
The declining effect of the education and stigma barriers have contributed to a recent surge of women entrepreneurs, especially in Canada.
However, a major concern remains that Canadian women appear to be trailing far behind men in financing new ventures. The reason for this might stem from the gender pay gap which still remains an unsolved issue (although it is improving). Regardless of the reason, it’s important to realize that improved education for women and changing social norms won’t help women entrepreneurs be successful if they still lack capital to finance their ventures – a key component in building any business.
The Alberta Women Entrepreneurs – an organization that specializes in assisting women entrepreneurs find financing -- seems to be helping to improve the financing gap for women. Organizations like these may prove central to the future growth of the Canadian economy, especially if women are to take a more central part in that growth. (links below)
David Kim is a member of the BLG Business Venture Clinic, and is a 2nd year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary.
Blog posts are by students at the Business Venture Clinic. Student bios appear under each post.