Thursday, March 8 marks International Women’s Day. A time to celebrate women and recognize the contributions they make every day around the world, but it’s also a day to raise awareness for women’s equality.
While women continue to make strides, starting and growing their own businesses in Saskatchewan, there’s still more work to be done.
Karey Kapell has been coaching and mentoring women entrepreneurs in Regina for the past two years.
“As women, we have a lot on our plate because we’re moms,” Kapell said. “We’re running businesses and business is typically structured in a very masculine way, so as females we approach it differently.”
The goal is to help women find that work-life balance and support when it comes to opening a business.
Across the country, female- run businesses are the fastest growing sector in the economy, mostly dominating in the retail and hospitality sectors.
“We don’t have enough women- owned business in the high growth, high profitability sectors like technology, manufacturing, agriculture, so what this creates is the gender entrepreneurship gap,” Prabha Mitchell, Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan, CEO said.
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But despite the progress, on average, women entrepreneurs don’t make as much money as men.
“A male-owned business is 3.5 times more likely to reach a million dollars than a female owned business. So these stats are quite startling,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell added there are barriers women face when it comes to owning their own businesses, including access to start-up capital, growth-capital, access to networks, role models and mentors.
“We need to educate our community about those gaps because were just understanding that there are these discrepancies,” Mitchell explained. “Then we as a community and I mean all sectors of the community, the government, the private sector and non-profits, we need to come together to examine how we can develop a strategy that address these barriers.”
The gender wage gap is just one of many conversations taking place on International Women’s Day.
“In most recent years, that conversation has been elevated as a result of a number of things, the #MeToo movement would be one of them,” minister responsible for status of women, Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.
Even though the wage gap in Saskatchewan is one of the highest among provinces, there is prosperity on the horizon.
“We are more and more seeing women tribal chiefs, in politics, in engineering, as head of big corporations, on news desks right,” Beaudry-Mellor said. “As more and more young girls see that, they want to aspire to those roles.”