New study examines digital gender divide amongst small business owners
May 15, 2017 – A report released today by Startup Canada explores challenges and opportunities to address the digital gender divide amongst small business owners (SBOs) in Canada. This report reveals that while women SBOs perceive technology to be key to their success, just 29 per cent consider themselves to be first or early adopters of new technologies. This is a notable 40 per cent less than the overall SBO population.
TIME, COST OF MAINTENANCE, ONLINE PRIVACY AMONG TOP 3 CONCERNS
Time and cost are the two top barriers to technology adoption amongst all SBOs in Canada, not just women. However, women are 19 per cent more likely to consider time as a major barrier when compared to the overall SBO population. Women SBOs are also 16 per cent more likely to report online privacy as a key concern when adopting new technologies. Notably, the degree to which women face these barriers can be affected by her stage of life, and familial and societal responsibilities she may face.
LOW COMFORT LEVEL & AWARENESS
Women SBOs are 20 per cent more likely than the overall SBO population to report a low comfort level with technology as a barrier to adoption. Women are also 11 per cent more likely than this group to experience a lack of awareness about digital technologies, and a concerning 46 per cent do not know where to go to learn about digital solutions for their business. To explain this, study participants reported that many tools, products and programs are designed and marketed with a male, not female, end-user in mind.
WOMEN LARGELY SELF-TAUGHT WHEN IT COMES TO DIGITAL ADOPTION
When it comes to the use of digital tools and skills to start, scale, and grow their business, 94 per cent of women SBOs report they are self-taught. This can be attributed in part to the need for on-demand content and flexible learning hours to accommodate and compliment various life stages experienced by women. Furthermore, while 78 per cent of women SBOs have not participated in women-centric digital technology skills building opportunities, 66 per cent report that such programs are extremely or very valuable.
NATIONAL TARGETS FOR WOMEN IN TECH LEADERSHIP AMONG RECOMMENDATIONS TO INCREASE DIGITAL ADOPTION AMONGST WOMEN SBOS
Opportunities to support more women to leverage digital technologies to grow their business include the establishment of national targets for women in tech leadership; support for programming created by and for women; digital skills training and upkeep grants for women SBOs; and, the creation of a challenge that calls upon private sector companies, entrepreneur support organizations, and government to set internal diversity goals that include women in all marketing campaigns, and considers the female user experience when designing digital programs and tools. For more details on these recommendations, please read the full report here.
- “Canada’s private sector anchor companies, government institutions, and entrepreneur ecosystem must take a leadership role to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. By taking deliberate and collaborative steps to address this gender divide, we can support women-owned businesses to be fiercely competitive through technology.” – Victoria Lennox, CEO & Co-Founder of Startup Canada.
- “Technology has been key to my success as an entrepreneur, and I’m passionate about spreading that message. Organizations like Ladies Learning Code are exposing Canadians across the country to the latest technical skills, but this is just a small part of the solution – the report indicates that we must do more. Helping more women to become comfortable with technology and to use it effectively to start, grow and scale businesses is a critical initiative that will require creativity, collaboration and ongoing commitment to change.” – Heather Payne, Founder of Ladies Learning Code.
- “In our digital economy, technology has the potential to be an equalizer. It can enable women who run their own businesses to succeed and grow at the same rate as their male counterparts. Today, nearly half of all new businesses in Canada are started by women, yet businesses owned by women generate less than half the revenue of those owned by men. I’m proud to be part of a government that’s addressing this imbalance by supporting programs for women who start their own businesses in technology as well as other sectors.” – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
- Find quotes from entrepreneurs within the report here.
- Executive Summary & Full Report
- Report Summary
- Video Summary
- Live Discussion Featuring Minister Bains, Ladies Learning Code, and more
For more information, contact:
Media Liaison, Startup Canada
About the Research
To better understand the digital gender divide amongst small business owners (SBOs) and to take steps toward closing this gap, Startup Canada, the national rallying community and voice for Canadian entrepreneurs engaged nearly 400 women SBOs across various stages of business, demographics, and geographies in a national study. The second in a four-part research series to advance the conversation on digital adoption amongst SBOs, this report uncovers how women use and adopt technology to operate their businesses, as well as principal barriers and challenges to technology adoption amongst women. Furthermore, this report highlights recommendations to increase digital adoption rates amongst women SBOs in Canada.
About Startup Canada
Startup Canada is the national rallying community and voice for Canadian entrepreneurs. Through flagship programs, digital platforms, and cross sector partnerships between entrepreneurs, private sector, and government, Startup Canada offers training, resources, and a peer network to give every entrepreneur equal opportunity for success. As members of Startup Canada, entrepreneurs are championed by the community and are given a national voice to media, industry and government. To learn more, visit www.startupcan.ca.