indicatorThe Owl

Women at work part two

Self-employment and business ownership

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 16 November 2023 2 min read

With Women's Entrepreneurship Day coming up on Sunday (November 19), the Owl is profiling trends related to women in the Alberta labour force and business sector.

In part one, we focused on employment growth and employment by industry. In today’s Owl, we examine self-employment and business ownership.

Self-employment remains less common among female workers

Most Albertans work for someone else as employees rather than for themselves—at least for their main* job. As of 2022, 12% of female workers in Alberta (137,400) were self-employed compared to 17% (213,300) of male workers.

As a result, 39% of all self-employed workers in Alberta last year were women, up from 26% in 1976 and a bit above the 10-year average of 36%.

Self-employed women in Alberta are less likely to have incorporated their business with 42% having done so as of 2022 compared to 65% of self-employed men. They are also less likely to have paid staff at 21% compared to 33% among self-employed men.

The number of women-owned businesses in Alberta is on the rise

Using data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Employer-Employee Dynamics Database, we estimate that there were just under 21,000 women-owned businesses** in Alberta last year. There were also about 24,000 equally-owned businesses***

The number of women-owned businesses in Alberta has been growing faster than the men-owned category. Between 2010 and 2022, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 27% compared to 6% for equally-owned businesses and 5% for men-owned businesses.

As a result, the share of businesses in Alberta that are women-owned has increased from 16% in 2010 to 19% in 2022.

*If a respondent to the Labour Force Survey has more than one job or business, they are asked to refer to the job or business at which they usually spend the most hours working. As a result, the data do not reflect additional jobs or “side gigs.”

**Refers to businesses with at least one employee and female ownership of between 51% and 100% (excluding the North American Industry Classification System code 81 “other services”).

***A business is equally-owned if men and women owners each own 50% of shares.

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Answer to the previous trivia question: The writer Marilyn Loden coined the term “glass ceiling” in 1978.

Today’s trivia question: In what year was the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization founded?

The number of women-owned businesses in Alberta increased by 27% between 2010 and 2022

The number of women-owned businesses in Alberta increased by 27% between 2010 and 2022

The share of Alberta businesses owned by women was 19% in 2022

The share of Alberta businesses owned by women was 19% in 2022

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