The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) is releasing a new research report Women Entrepreneurs Beyond the Stereotypes and awareness campaign it said is designed to “celebrate women entrepreneur success stories and crush male-dominated stereotypes of entrepreneurship.”
Called See It Be It, the initiative will include a database of 1,000 award-winning and successful diverse Canadian women entrepreneurs with a goal of challenging stereotypes.
“We know that most people associate ‘entrepreneur’ with people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg,” said Wendy Cukier, founder of the Diversity Institute and Academic Director of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. “The stereotype is strongly associated with men and with technology. We also know that if you can see it, you can be it.”
The research report provides an analysis of how deeply rooted stereotypes of entrepreneurship create barriers to entry, acceptance and growth of women entrepreneurs.
It has been estimated that closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship alone could add up to $81 billion to Canada’s GDP.
“Much has been written about the barriers women face in getting the support they need to establish and grow their ventures whether in technology, services, the arts or social entrepreneurship,” said Cukier.
“Structural issues, systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and stereotypes of entrepreneurs underpin many of the barriers. Stereotypes also shape the way programs are designed, who they serve and how financing and investment decisions are made. Even more importantly, the strong association between entrepreneurship and men in tech shapes the aspirations of young women, most of whom do not see themselves as entrepreneurs even if what they dream of doing is actually entrepreneurial.”
Many of the Canadian women entrepreneurs who are approaching billionaire status are not what is commonly associated with entrepreneurship, a release stated. An example of that is, Celine Dion who has an entertainment empire with an estimated value of $800 million.
“There are successful Canadian women entrepreneurs in all sectors from food and construction, to transportation and media and technology. Mandy Rennehan’s construction empire, Freshco Inc. has an estimated value of $650 million and scientist Susan Niczowski, co-founder with her mother of Summer Fresh which sells salads, spreads and appetizers has sales over $100 million a year.
“BBTV Holdings and Broadband TV founder and CEO, Shahzrad Rafiti competes with global tech giants like Google and Tessa Fraser, founder and CEO of Iskew Airline has shattered the glass ceiling in aviation. Building her brewery and distillery business into a massive success is Manjit Minhas who is also reinvesting in other women as the youngest Dragon of investors on the ‘entrepreneur maker’ show Dragon’s Den.”
By International Women’s Day in March 2021, WEKH said it plans to “showcase 1,000 women entrepreneurs so that when Canadians are asked to identify successful entrepreneurs they will think again and think about Canadian women.” To nominate a successful women entrepreneur, visit wekh.ca/seeitbeit
WEKH is a national network designed to address the needs of diverse women entrepreneurs across regions and across sectors.