Lisa von Sturmer, Founder, Growing City, Vancouver, British Columbia

This year marks the first time women entrepreneurs will be celebrated with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, launching November 19 at the UN. It’s an important day commemorating the impact of women entrepreneurs, job creators and innovators around the world. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is a day of celebration and encouragement, a reminder of how far women have come, and how far women and men have yet to go before we reach true gender equality.

One glaring area of disparity that’s been making headlines lately is the wage gap, where women are paid less per hour than men of the same skillset. In Canada, women earn just 70 per cent of what men do which has broader implications than just being plain unfair, especially with the recent Global Gender Gap Report put out by the World Economic Forum. The global economic community is realizing just how important equal pay for equal work is when trying to grow stagnant economies. According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “investment in gender equality yields the highest returns of all development investments.”

Many countries are pushing to close this gap, but at a snail’s pace. The World Economic Forum reports that only three countries have improved their overall scores by 10% or more since 2006 (the first year countries were ranked for gender gap). Those countries are Ecuador, France and Nicaragua.  Canada didn’t even crack the top 15, but came in at a dismal 19 (behind South Africa, Burundi and Latvia).

Change is good, but that rate of improvement doesn’t leave many options for the millions of Canadian women sick of getting the short end of the wage stick.

However! There’s some good news for women who want to up their earnings. Barclay’s report “Unlocking the Female Economy” released some very interesting findings. They discovered that the wage-gap actually ‘reversed’ in successful women entrepreneurs.

“Among our sample, the average annual income for female entrepreneurs is GBP£382,000, compared with an average of GBP£327,000 for men. This suggests that women will tend to achieve greater financial success in an environment that is purely market-driven, rather than a more traditional job in which pay must be negotiated.”

It’s not a surprise that women traditionally have trouble asking for raises and negotiating (who can forget Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella telling a conference of women not to ask for raises because it’s better “karma” and that they’ll be rewarded for their benevolence “eventually”), but when you’re the boss you can set your own wage without having to ask. Suddenly, all bets are off and a woman’s earning potential is only limited by her business’ success.  Better profits equal better wages. This is where women are starting to thrive.

As Forbes recently noted in their interesting piece “2014 will be a Breakout Year for Women Entrepreneurs”, women-run businesses are proving to be more profitable:

“Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher return on investment, and when venture-backed, bringing in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech companies.”

Women are also doing more with less. According to research from the Kauffman Foundation, women-run start-ups often launch with 30-50% less capital than their male peers, and yet in their first year do similar revenue numbers to their male-run more-capitalized competitors.

The outlook for women in business is bright. If you’re a woman that’s been frustrated about the wage-gap, or a person that’s looking for ways to maximize your earning potential – becoming an entrepreneur could be your best bet.

Indeed, Forbes goes on to say that the number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men and that 60% of high-net-worth women have earned their own fortunes. Why not be one of them?

So, while the world slowly starts to catch up, I’ll be celebrating barrier-breaking, job creating, wage-gap reversing women entrepreneurs this November 19th.  I hope you’ll all join me!

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