Women entrepreneurs in the United States are making strides – they are out in the world running businesses, moving forward through innovation and staking their claim. This is evidenced in the American Express OPEN state of women-owned businesses report, which examines trends from 1997 to 2011 of the number, employment and revenues of said businesses. American Express published this report in order to highlight strides women are making but also to pinpoint barriers that might be preventing women from achieving their full potential. For women entrepreneurs, something seems to stand in the way of them and technology, as their presence is not as loud as one might expect.
According to the American Express OPEN report, as of 2011 the number of businesses owned by women likely exceeds that of 8.1 million, or around 49%. This number has doubled in the past 14 years. These women are making almost $1.3 trillion in revenue each year and are employing almost 7.7 million people. During the time period of this report, overall business growth was measured at a rate of 34%. But businesses led by women grew at a rate of 50%, meaning that businesses of entrepreneurial women are growing at a rate double than those of men. The report states that overall women-run businesses have experienced substantial growth in the last 14 years, but for some reason they do not fare as well as the businesses grow larger. And despite the fact that many of these numbers are impressive, women-run businesses employ a low percentage of America’s workforce at only 6% and only account for 4% all of all business revenue.
Women in Technology
There is no question that women-run businesses are growing. This is especially so for businesses related to education, administrative and waste services and construction. It’s interesting to also note that the most women-owned businesses are in healthcare and social assistance, education and personal care. But when it comes to technology, you just don’t see many women running the show. In fact, the number is in the low single digits.
In Cynthia Kocialski’s Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog (who happens to have a background in the hi-tech industry), she notes that in 1989, 15% of engineering bachelor’s degrees went to women and 39% of science bachelor’s degrees went to women. Now is about the time these women would be ranking high up in companies. According to Forbes’ Top 25 Hottest Tech Stocks, only 13% of senior managers were women and only 1.9% of them had a technical position.
There is one field related to technology where women entrepreneurs have experienced growth – in mobile development. The Huffington Post reported last year that although this field had been previously male dominated, many women are making a name for themselves through the development of iPhone apps.
Men vs. Women Entrepreneurs
What exactly is going on when it comes to women and technology? There are countless hypotheses one could generate about why women entrepreneurs are falling short in the field of technology. Maybe it has to do with differing interests, societal influence or the fact that around the time men are thinking about going big with their ideas, women are more focused on starting a family. Also, men and women certainly differ in characteristics. Men are possibly more prone to taking big risks or talk themselves up more than woman do.
Another possibility is that women are experiencing discrimination and are being held back through no fault of their own. Because we as a society are more accustomed to seeing men involved in technology, we might be more wary of women attempting to enter the field. Women entrepreneurs will just have to keep chugging along, and most likely in the coming years we will see more women-run businesses in technology.