Women and Business: Agents of Change

Women and Business: Agents of Change

Loral Langemeier at Live Out Louds DoorIn 2008, U.S. News and World Report released data telling us that women controlled an estimated $10-$12 trillion — 60% of the wealth in the United States.  At the same time, U.S. News and World Report projected that women will control $22 trillion of all wealth in the United States by 2020.

You read that right. We, as women, control 60% of the wealth in the U.S., but that’s not all.

“… women are increasingly gaining influence in the work world. As we write, the number of working women in the United States is about to surpass the number of working men. Three-quarters of the people who have lost jobs in the current recession are men. To be fair, women are still paid less, on average, than men, and are more likely to work part-time—factors that have helped insulate them somewhat from the crisis.

Nevertheless, we believe that as this recession abates, women not only will represent one of the largest market opportunities in our lifetimes but also will be an important force in spurring a recovery and generating new prosperity.” (Excerpt from the Harvard Business Review). Emphasis is mine.)

In the meantime, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that men have been hit harder by this recession because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Women’s careers are generally in more insulated occupations, such as teaching, health care and service industries.

However with every new woman-owned company being started, more and more are entering into male-dominated industries such as the technology and manufacturing industries.

It’s not the only reason women are leaving employment and opting for building their own businesses, but hitting the proverbial glass ceiling is among the greatest motivators. Other reasons include the need (or desire) for flexibility, conquering the challenges inherent to being the decision maker of a business, and ultimately, financial freedom.

John Becker-Blease of Oregon State University (and others) analyzed data from Standard & Poor’s study of 1500 firms. They determined that 7.2% of women executives in the survey left their jobs, compared to 3.8% of men. Based on their analysis, voluntary rates were 4.3% for women and 2.8% for men.

According to the Center for Women’s Business Research (et al), women-owned firms have an economic impact of $3 trillion annually that translates into the creation and/or maintenance of more than 23 million U.S. jobs (that’s 16%).

The Small Business Administration has reported in recent years that women-owned businesses are far outpacing all other businesses in terms of growth. In fact, for the past two decades, majority women-owned firms have continued to grow at around two times the rate of all firms (42% vs. 24%).

These figures show women-owned firms as a major player in the overall economy and they have staying power.

In fact, the Center for Women’s Business Research report goes on to state: If U.S.-based women-owned businesses were their own country, they would have the 5th largest GDP in the world, trailing closely behind Germany, and ahead of countries including France, United Kingdom and Italy.

Women are a force and we, as entrepreneurs, can help turn this economy around! Are you ready to step up and get in the game?

What are you waiting for?


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