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Study: Women-owned Enterprises in Canada

Released: 2018-09-24

A new Statistics Canada study, "Women-owned Enterprises in Canada," provides the first comprehensive overview of women-owned enterprises in Canada using a new linked administrative database — the Canadian Employer-Employee Dynamics Database (CEEDD). The CEEDD links businesses to their employers and to their owners, thus allowing for the first time, a detailed analysis of business owner characteristics, including by gender. The database currently includes information up to 2013 and represents an important first step by providing a historical perspective on women-owned enterprises in Canada. It will be updated as new information becomes available.

According to the results of the study, there were 275,300 women-owned enterprises on average each year from 2005 to 2013, employing 828,700 workers. Women-owned enterprises accounted for 18% of all private enterprises and 15% of employment in private enterprises (for which the gender of business ownership could be identified).

In contrast, there were over one million men-owned enterprises on average each year from 2005 to 2013, accounting for 4.1 million employees. These enterprises represented 67% of all private enterprises and 73% of employment in private enterprises.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Average share of private enterprises and employment in private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013
Average share of private enterprises and employment in private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013 

Despite the significant difference between the number of women- and men-owned enterprises, the number of women-owned enterprises (+33%) and the employment in these enterprises (+20%) increased at a faster pace relative to men-owned and equally-owned (women and men) enterprises from 2005 to 2013.

Equally-owned enterprises (enterprises owned by both women and men) saw similar growth (+32%) in the number of businesses, but slower growth (+12%) in employment. In contrast, the number of men-owned enterprises grew 22% and employment in these enterprises rose 8%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Growth in the number of private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013
Growth in the number of private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013

Chart 3  Chart 3: Growth in employment in private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013
Growth in employment in private enterprises, by ownership gender, 2005 to 2013

Higher share of women-owned and equally-owned enterprises in Western Canada

Gender in business ownership varied considerably across Canada and industries. Women-owned and equally-owned enterprises were more prevalent in Western Canada, where their shares were higher than the national average.

From 2006 to 2013, the total share of women-owned and equally-owned enterprises was lowest overall in Quebec at 24% and highest in British Columbia at 39%. While the number of these enterprises increased at a faster pace than that of men-owned enterprises across Canada, the number of women-owned enterprises grew fastest relative to men-owned enterprises in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and the territories.

Women-owned enterprises more common in service industries

Women-owned enterprises were more prevalent in service industries, such as educational services; health care and social assistance; and arts, entertainment and recreation. In contrast, men-owned enterprises were more prevalent in goods-producing industries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; utilities; and manufacturing.

The share of women-owned enterprises was highest in the educational services industry (35%) and lowest in the construction industry (7%) from 2005 to 2013. The number of women-owned enterprises grew much faster relative to that of men-owned enterprises in most service industries, with the fastest growth in education and health care and social assistance.

Women-owned enterprises more prevalent among small enterprises

Women-owned enterprises were also more prevalent in small enterprise categories (enterprises with no employees, fewer than 5 employees, and 5 to 19 employees). Women-owned enterprises accounted for 17% to 19% of enterprises within those categories, while they represented 11% of enterprises with more than 100 employees.

Products

The research article, "Women-owned Enterprises in Canada," which is part of Economic Insights (Catalogue number11-626-X), is now available.

Also released today is a technical paper titled "The Measurement of Business Ownership by Gender in the Canadian Employer–Employee Dynamics Database," which is part of the Analytical Studies: Methods and References (Catalogue number11-633-X) series.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Danny Leung (613-951-2574; danny.leung@canada.ca) or Huju Liu (613-407-0589; huju.liu@canada.ca), Economic Analysis Division.

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