Women are increasingly present in the entrepreneurial sector in Québec and Canada, but they continue to face certain gender-related challenges. Ingrid Chadwick, a researcher in organizational management at Concordia University, has conducted a study to gain a better understanding of these obstacles.
A review of the literature enabled her to identify a number of misconceptions about female entrepreneurship, such as the idea that women are less motivated to become entrepreneurs than men. While it is true that women own only 15.6% of Canadian SMEs, the researcher notes that women nevertheless make up 37% of self-employed workers in Canada, and that women are less likely to describe themselves as entrepreneurs than men, which affects the statistics.
Another widespread belief is that women are not very good at obtaining funding. In fact, a number of studies show that finance providers often have a negative bias towards women. They tend to ask women different types of questions than their male counterparts, and assess their projects more severely.
As for the idea that women entrepreneurs are less successful than men, this is rooted in a very masculine definition of success, focused on profits, growth and international expansion. Women have been shown to give more weight to their positive societal impact and the well-being of their staff in defining success.
The researcher also conducted 64 interviews with women entrepreneurs, which led her to identify different types of women entrepreneurs: some experience difficulties related to their gender, such as imposter syndrome, while others perceive their gender as a source of entrepreneurial opportunities.
In the wake of this work, Ingrid Chadwick has been appointed academic co-director of Concordia University’s new Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership, where she will continue to promote entrepreneurial careers among women.