Canadian Women Entrepreneurs, Research and Public Policy: A Review of Literature

Canada is a global leader in women’s entrepreneurship. In a multi-nation study of
enterprise start-up and new firm creation, Canadian women are cited as among the most
entrepreneurial among the OECD developed nations.1
However, while the rates of
business start-up are indeed impressive, on average, majority women-owned Canadian
firms are significantly smaller, less profitable and less likely to grow compared to those
firms owned by men. Within corporate Canada, women are under-represented in senior
management. A key challenge for business owners, executives, educators and policy
makers, therefore, is to proactively address the obstacles that stymie enterprise growth
and the advancement of women into leadership roles.
Canadian Women Entrepreneurs, Research and Public Policy: A Literature Review is one
of a series of information resources that examine gender differences in enterprise
creation, management practices and firm performance. Each report in the Women and
Enterprise Working Papers presents analysis of Canadian issues and challenges
associated with creating and managing high-performance enterprises.
The foundation of the working papers follows several Canadian initiatives: the 2003
Prime Minister’s Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs; the 2004 Sustaining the
Momentum: An Economic Forum on Women Entrepreneurs;2
and a 2006 Journal of
Small Business and Entrepreneurship special issue about gender, training and
entrepreneurship.3 Four primary themes emerge from these important initiatives: the
significant and increasing contribution of women business owners to the Canadian and
global economy; the ongoing absence of data about the participation rates and impact of
women business owners in local, provincial and federal programs; the need to undertake
and communicate research about women entrepreneurs; and a desire for better
coordinated services, research and policy to support women entrepreneurs. It is
anticipated that these working papers will inform management practices, training
initiatives, research and policy targeted at supporting Canadian enterprises.

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