Ottawa-based startup advocates find national ‘digital gender divide’ among small business owners

Victoria Lennox
Startup Canada co-founder Victoria Lennox. (Photo by Haley Ritchie / Metro)

Research by Ottawa-based Startup Canada reveals a gendered divide in technology use by small business owners, with women entrepreneurs reporting less comfort adopting new tools.

The organization took feedback from 400 female small business owners across the country about their use of emerging technologies for their businesses.

The women in the study reported recognizing the value in technology, but many still don’t see themselves as earlier adopters.

While 70 per cent of small business owners in a general survey described themselves as “first or early adopters of new technologies,” the number dropped to 29 per cent when just women were surveyed.

The research is part of a series being conducted by Startup Canada, which started began in February to look at “digital adoption” among entrepreneurs and small business owners. That initial research revealed the gender divide.

“There was quite a bit of a gender divide when it came to digital adoption,” said Startup Canada co-founder Victoria Lennox. “Ultimately it’s their companies being disadvantaged, so we wanted to find out what that really meant.”

“Our study found there are a lot of factors as to why they’re not adopting new technology,” she said.

Some of the barriers are faced by every entrepreneur: women reported a lack of time, the speed of new tools and trying to keep up with a huge range of options.

The report found that 20 per cent small business owners who are women  reported “a low comfort level with technology as a barrier to adoption.”

“More and more there’s all these tools and solutions that are popping up every day,” said Lennox.

Women in the report were also 16 per cent more likely to report online privacy as a “key concern” when choosing to try new technologies for their business.

Lennox said many participants in the study noted that digital tools are designed by men in tech dominated fields and marketed to the same demographic.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.