As posted on Forbes Woman: In the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Business Report, there are some fascinating statistics that point to the strength women are bringing into start-ups and running and owning their own businesses. As a woman CEO of a technology company, I am thrilled to see statistics that show that women are starting businesses at 1.5 times the national average and, more importantly, women-owned firms are doing better than men-owned businesses have done over the past 14 years.
- As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1 .3 trillion in revenue and employing nearly 7 .7 million people.
- Between 1997 and 2011, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 34%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50%— a rate 1½ times the national average.
- Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years . The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U .S . firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms . Employment in men-owned firms has actually declined by nearly 5% over the past 14 years, while revenues grew by just 33%, both well below the growth seen among women-owned and all U .S . firms.
According to Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Open:
“Women are driving the growth of our smaller businesses. They do a great job of bringing new ideas to life and they show strong results up to a certain level. In terms of both revenue and employment, the share of women-owned firms at the highest levels of business accomplishment has remained essentially unchanged over the past 14 years.”
Women need to know that their work in small business and entrepreneurship is being noticed, and that they have what it takes to be successful in this business arena. Often times I feel that women short change themselves when they think about what they are capable of in the business world. I feel like women are more apt to question their ability to make something happen, and more apt to give you all the reasons why they might not be able to do something — before they even get started. But clearly, once we decide to take on a challenge– we are doing it successfully. In order to perpetuate this success for women we all need to write about these sort of successes. We need girls and young women to understand and to know that they can accomplish what they want in business, and in their career, and not wonder whether they might.
Interestingly, since 1991 women have also been surpassing men in graduating from college. An article from the Population Reference Bureau highlights the discrepancy between men and women in higher education:
Simply put, young women are now more likely to enroll in, and graduate from, college than young men. Where historically men have been more likely to finish college, since 1991 the share of women ages 25 to 29 with a bachelor’s degree or higher has exceeded the share of young men with the same credentials (see figure). And the gap has widened in recent years due to stagnation in the rate of young men earning degrees. Moreover, this phenomenon is present among all major race and ethnic groups. Women not only represent a majority of young adults enrolled as college undergraduates, but they also are now nearly three-fifths of graduate students.
So if women are graduating at a higher rate than men, and women are running more successful companies, maybe women will begin to get through the corporate glass ceiling. This is exciting news for women. It is slightly disturbing news for men. As the mother of three boys, I will work very hard to make sure my boys are not part of the failing statistic. But since women have worked so hard to get equality in school, equality on the field, and equality in the workplace, this is fabulous news. Now if we could only deal with what happens to women and their careers during their child-bearing years, then we might actually come a long way baby!