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Women in corporate leadership still face barriers, with significant gaps in business ownership, representation and compensation, according to a report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

It found Canada lags behind nearly half of its peers in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in its share of female managers. While women have made strides in the overall workforce, holding almost half of all jobs in 2023, the report said the same can’t be said for higher-ranking positions.

In 2023, the share of women in management — including middle management — was 35 per cent, said the report. And the higher up the ladder, the fewer women there were, with women making up less than a quarter of boardroom seats in corporate Canada.

Read: Women represent a quarter of C-suite leaders in North America: report

“The data show that barriers for women persist most prominently in management positions and in boardrooms,” said Marwa Abdou, senior research director for the chamber’s business data lab and the report’s lead author, in a press release.

In 2020, just 21 per cent of board directors were women, up from 18 per cent in 2016. The report said there’s still a pay gap as well, with women earning just 88 cents to the dollar in management occupations, compared with men in 2023. The gaps are wider in certain industries, such as natural resources and construction, and narrower in others like health care and education.

There are also geographic differences. Prince Edward Island, for example, is the only province where women in management actually earn more than men, said the report. In Quebec, women earn 95 cents to a man’s dollar, while in Alberta it’s only 81 cents. Meanwhile, Atlantic Canada and Quebec have the smallest gaps when it comes to women’s representation in management, while Central and Western Canada have the farthest to go.

Some of the barriers preventing women from advancing cited in the report include organizational culture problems, such as inflexible work conditions and discrimination, as well as a lack of organizational support. Self-employed women may face prohibitive financing and credit requirements, or a lack of information and support.

“There are several practical things we can do, such as tracking hiring and promotion outcomes, providing upskilling and mentorship and holding senior leaders accountable for diversity goals,” said Abdou, adding that addressing parental leave gaps and improving access to funding and support would also help. “If we don’t redouble our efforts now, our granddaughters will face many of the same challenges experienced by today’s women in business.”

Read: 65% of women employees concerned about receiving inadequate pay increases: survey