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New report sheds light on barriers to creative women entrepreneurship

View of participants during one of the Good w/ Food dinners for creative women entrepreneurs. Individuals were invited to contribute to an interactive tablecloth throughout the evening. Photo courtesy: Alexandra Hong.
View of participants during one of the Good w/ Food dinners for creative women entrepreneurs. Individuals were invited to contribute to an interactive tablecloth throughout the evening. Photo courtesy: Alexandra Hong.

The impact of COVID-19 has been particularly hard on creative entrepreneurs, especially women, Indigenous, racialized and other diverse entrepreneurs.

That’s one of the findings of a new report released today by OCAD University researchers Dr.  Alia Weston, Alexandra Hong, Karli Ferriolo, and Jacquie Shaw coinciding with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.

Critical Perspectives on Creative Women Entrepreneurs, provides new insights on creative entrepreneurship through the lived experiences of women and individuals of marginalized genders in the OCAD U and surrounding community.

The report complements a comprehensive literature review released this week by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, exploring the role of creative entrepreneurship in the innovation economy and in our economic recovery.

Through the research, Dr. Alia Weston, associate professor for Creative and Business Enterprise and Alexandra Hong, project officer, at OCAD U’s Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD), recognized that we need to think differently about entrepreneurship for creatives. Many creatives do not operate as stereotypical entrepreneurs. As a result, they are excluded from resources and support systems available to entrepreneurs. 

“As the country continues its recovery effort from COVID-19, we must recognize the toll this pandemic has taken on creatives, particularly women,” says Ana Serrano, President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University. “This report provides valuable insights on the supports and resources needed to face these challenges, as well as solutions that foster values such as community and social responsibility.”

Report’s key findings

A key finding in the report points to systemic barriers that creative entrepreneurs, particularly women and individuals of marginalized genders, face – lack of entrepreneurial support structures and inadequate government policies.

“These challenges are not new discoveries. What we’re showing are longstanding structural challenges related to gender discrimination and intersectional barriers faced by creatives in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Weston. “These insights are a reminder that we need appropriate support structures and policies which adequately support women, individuals of marginalized genders, and equity seeking groups.”

The report is part of the CEAD’s work to support the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, a nation-wide network funded by the Government of Canada and consisting of researchers, business support organizations, and key stakeholders aiming to reduce barriers and grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.

The hub is led by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, and the Ted Rogers School of Management with over 75 partner organizations.

“The insights from our report provide a deeper understanding of how creatives see themselves in Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem,” says Hong. “It sets a framework for how the CEAD is developing resources and opportunities to support creative entrepreneurs – particularly under-represented and equity-seeking individuals.”