Beyond the Economic: The Influence of Women Entrepreneurs in Canada

In an exploration of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada, this project seeks to re-examine the commonplace of the male as the prime entrepreneurial role model while uncovering the experience and potential of women entrepreneurs for the expansion of economic growth and social impact. My research demonstrates that women entrepreneurs not only have the potential to negotiate between two complex entrepreneurial systems to reveal a middle ground, but very likely have been leaders in developing a vision of Canadian society wherein businesses do not act in conflict with the good of the people, but rather, in concert with it. I derived this knowledge by adapting a qualitative and design research method known as the Double Diamond design model (Design Council, 2005). This method emphasizes empathetic ‘problem finding,’ rather than comparisons with men in the field, to uncover a broad range of issues surrounding women’s entrepreneurship. As a design method, Double Diamond includes an iterative ‘problem solving’ process that delivers ideas for interventions to improve women entrepreneurs’ experience and impact. My literature review unwraps the dichotomy of approaches held by researchers to studying and measuring women entrepreneurs’ impact on the Canadian economy and society. In Methodology, I describe my research approach, framed by the Double Diamond’s four distinct phases: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. I incorporate additional design methods in each phase—expert interviews, journey mapping, stakeholder mapping, affinity diagramming and sequence modeling—to organize, understand, and suggest the clearest ways to communicate what I learn. This leads to the observations and insights found in Findings, where a synthesis of takeaways is followed by design-derived recommendations for advancement women’s entrepreneurship and the study thereof. The project concludes with a reflection on the inquiry process and implications of the study for general entrepreneurship literature and the overall value for aspiring women entrepreneurs.

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