Self-employed Women - How's Canada Doing?

According to 2015 census data, 819,060 women declare self-employed income. They represent 37% of the 2,194,435 people declaring self employed income and 4.5% of the workforce. Both these percentage have seen steady and significant growth since the 1986 census, when self-self-employed women were 21.56% of this class of worker and 2.05% of the entire workforce.

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are the top three provinces with the most individuals declaring self-employment income. Put together, the income of 1,657,070 residents of these provinces comes partially or entirely from self employment.  624,610 of the self-employed workers in these three provinces are women.

Women are present in most industries. However, their presence as self-employed workers in the following 18 industries (identified with their NAICS label) are cause for special attention: 

  1. Industries where they are present in high numbers but continue to be a minority: Construction; Trucking, Transit & Ground passenger transport; Couriers & messengers; Motion picture & sound; Arts, entertainment and recreation, excluding amusement, games and gambling; Repair & Maintenance.

  2. Industries where an above average percentage of the workforce is both self-employed and women : Professional, scientific and technical services; Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services; Personal and laundry services; Private households. 

  3. Industries with low percentages of self employment but an above-average number of self-employed women : Retail Trade; Publishing; Other information services; Educational Services; Health Care and Social Assistance; Accommodations, food services; Religious, grant-making, civic, and professional and similar organizations. 

Beyond the industries they are involved with, who are the self-employed women of Canada? There are many stories numbers can’t tell, as statistics cannot confirm how many of these women may be part of professional orders or unions, have dependents, be caring for loved ones, and whether they are in partnerships that allow them to benefit from private insurance (or whether they have purchased it themselves).

This blog is an evolving piece. I am currently working on locating which industries and census agglomerations have an overrepresentation of self employed women. Next steps : ascertaining who self employed women are and whether there is an over-representation of visible minority and newly-arrived women amongst this class of entrepreneur. Finally, determining how women’s self employment wages fare compared to the average, already analyzed here.