While a lot needs to be done to remove the income disparities that still exist between the sexes, the fact remains that the women of today are smashing old stereotypes and stamping their own identity in an otherwise male-dominated corporate world.
The contribution of womenpreneurs is on the rise in the U.S. economy. In fact, as of 2016, there were an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses operating in the United States, employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenues, according to The State of Women-Oriented Businesses, 2016, a report commissioned by American Express OPEN.
Key Factors Fueling the Increase of Womenpreneurs
1) Access to mentors—Women who have proven their mettle and climbed the corporate summit are the ones helping to usher in this new wave of female professional empowerment. By playing mentor to other women, these more established ladies help their younger or less experienced counterparts tap into their potential and make the most of the available opportunities that exist today. “The energy that develops when a woman feels good and has confidence in her style is contagious. Being able to share my energy with other women is what drives me,” says Jude Connally, a New Jersey-based designer who has a successful clothing line in her name.
2) Minority-owned businesses—There has been unprecedented growth in the number of women-owned businesses in the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession, especially with minority women-owned firms. The American Express OPEN report mentions that in 2007, there were 2.2 million businesses with minority women at the helm, a figure that shot up to 5 million in 2016, comprising 44% of the total women-owned businesses in the United States.
3) Industry-wise trends—Another important trend that is brought to the surface by the American Express OPEN report pertains to a genuine interest and expertise of women in the following industry sectors:
• Pet-care and home businesses to hair and nail salons accounted for nearly 2.5 million firms, or 22% of all women-owned businesses.
• Healthcare and social assistance accounted for 1.7 million firms, or 15% of the total businesses run by women.
• Professional, scientific and technical firms accounted for 1.4 million, or 13% of the total women-run businesses.
• Administrative, support and waste management made up 1.3 million, or 11% of the total businesses headed by women.
4) Women-led venture capital firms—The availability of finance job opportunities used to be slim for women entering the corporate world. It is a well-established fact that venture capital (VC) firms were, and still are, a male bastion. The emergence of several women-led VC firms that are prioritizing funding women-led businesses is a game changer, significantly contributing to this golden age of the American economy where women-owned businesses are disrupting the status quo.
5) Free of bias—An emerging trend with women in hiring positions and in professional leadership roles are that they possess a shared goal of group achievement and a manner of driving success by bringing everyone—men, women, minorities—along with them.
It is interesting to note that 10 female founders managed to break into the inaugural list of CNBC’s Upstart 25 featuring young start-up companies that are breaking barriers and building brands of tomorrow. This is just one example of how things are fast changing in corporate America and the economy, in general, is benefiting because of these savvy womenpreneuers. There is no denying the fact that women are willing to go that extra mile in order to achieve their ambitious targets and disrupt the markets through innovation and best practices. They are the true flag-bearers of our economy.
Eleonora Arosio is a freelance illustrator based in Amsterdam, but keeps changing her base around the world. Born in 1992, she started being passionate about drawing from an early age. Many years after that, she graduated in fine arts from NABA Academy in Milan and started dedicating herself to illustrations, mainly focusing her work on everyday life from a woman’s ironic point of view.