Part 1 of 3: Obstacles Facing Women Business-Owners

9-Successful-Women-Entrepreneurs-In-IndiaOverall, there are fewer Canadian female business-owners than their male counterparts. Why does this disparity exist? For the next couple of weeks, I will be writing a 3-part blog series focusing on female business-ownership and how women can begin overcoming obstacles to success, either societal or otherwise.

Of all the business-owners I have worked with over the years, only a small percentage of my mentees are female, and I believe with more female presence in the entrepreneurial community, more women would feel inspired and compelled to see themselves undertaking that challenge.

Based on some very preliminary research, there could be several reasons why there are simply less female Canadian business-owners:

  • Fewer females in positions of power in business: Only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women and women hold only 14% of executive officer positions*. With statistics like these, perhaps young women do not identify or aspire to become business owners when they do not see female role models.
  • Work-Life Balance: Although we now see much more equality between women and men in the domestic setting, women traditionally still take on a large portion of the household responsibilities, which results in less available time to spend putting in the hard hours of work required to get a new business up and running.
  •  Societal gender expectations: Traits that are often valued in male business-owners, such as assertiveness and drive, are sometimes incorrectly perceived as aggressive and selfish in female business-owners. This can affect a female business-owner’s confidence in reaching her next level of professional success.
  • Lack of mentorship: Starting a business can be a very personal undertaking, and it may be difficult to ask for help. Business-owners, both male and female, would benefit from seeking mentorship and business coaching to gain perspective, learn from others’ experience and get support.

Do you agree with some of the reasons why there may be fewer female Canadian business-owners? Would you have added more to the list? Let me know what you think in your comments below.

My next blog will feature an interview with two local female business-owners who will give us some insights into both the obstacles and successes of their business. Stay tuned!

* Information referenced from Business Insider Magazine.

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3 Comments on “Part 1 of 3: Obstacles Facing Women Business-Owners”

  1. Debra Silas says:

    From my perspective, I see a growing number of women run businesses but they tend to have a different structure: either home based or internet based, small businesses. However much that number may be growing, I think both the perception and reality of the “old boys club” prevents women from engaging in the mentoring process. This is unfortunate as there is a wealth of knowledge and information to be gained from a group like TAB, but the structure and even the timing of most networking mentoring events precludes many women who typically balance running their business with family responsibilities. Notably the after hours meetings or the early morning breakfasts preclude anyone active in parenting their children. My conversations with female entrepreneurs is they build their businesses to accommodate the flexibility they need for family and elder care commitments, which can at times feels isolated, as they are less likely to access good mentoring programs.

  2. Tara says:

    Not sure I agree with the thesis of this post. RBC, in particular, has some very revealing statistics on their website http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/sme/women/statistics.html. For example, 47% of Canadian owned SMEs have at least 1 female owner. While that is certainly not equal to men, it’s not that far off. 4 out of 5 businesses are started by women. That eclipses the men.

    Fortunately, there are many fantastic women centric business organizations, both of a peer-to-peer nature and others. Those interested should check out http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com/, http://www.fwe.ca/, http://www.womensenterprise.ca/, and the literally dozens of other organizations whose primary purpose is to support women as business owners and leaders.

    • philspensieri says:

      Thanks for your comments, Tara. Anything that supports women business-owners is something I support, and mentorship is absolutely part of that. My post was to highlight some of the potential obstacles for women, in addition to obstacles that every business-owner faces.

      Thanks everyone for igniting some great discussion points!


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