Data Catalyst - InnovationInspired by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ look at women in science across the world, and as part of the work we’re doing in exploring the role of gender in the innovation economy, we’ve decided to do a deeper dive into some of the Canadian statistics on the gender disparity in the labour force.

Over the months of April and May, we’ll be sharing some visualizations that look at a particular slice of data around women in the labour force in Canada, and we welcome your feedback and thoughts on what kinds of stories those visualizations tell.

Self-employed women by industry sector

The visualizations below highlight the trends in self-employment by industry, specific to women, from 1987 to 2013. Using data from Statistics Canada, we’ve looked at the concentration of self-employment among women in various industries, and how that’s changing.

A few things we immediately noticed:

  • While most of those who are self-employed continue to work in the services-providing sector, we see a decline in the agriculture and trade sectors, but an increase in the “business, building, other support services” and “professional, scientific, and technical services” sectors.
  • The number of self-employed women in knowledge industries has increased by 11.9% in the past 15 years. In 1987, the percentage of women in these industries was 10.3%; in 2013, it had increased to 22.3%.

What does the data tell you? What actions do we need to take to address some of the issues that come from understanding the data?

All articles in this series:


Labour force: Refers to the labour market activity of the population 15 years of age and over, excluding institutional residents, in the week containing the 15th day of the month prior to Census Day. Respondents are classified as either employed or unemployed. The remainder of the working-age population is classified as not in the labour force.

Labour force participation rate: Total labour force expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 and over. The participation rate for a particular group (for example, women aged 25 years and over) is expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.

Industry: A grouping of producers or service providers assembled on the basis of the homogeneity of their products or services.