September 22 is American Business Women’s Day, which marks the founding of the American Business Women’s Association in 1949. The holiday was officially recognized by a Congressional resolution in 1983, and celebrates the legacy and contributions of millions of American working women and female business owners.
Since 1949, the number of women-owned businesses—defined as businesses at least 51% owned and operated by women—in the United States has grown exponentially. According to a study commissioned by American Express*, that number has increased 31 times between 1972 and 2018, rising from 402,000 in 1972 to 12.3 million. Today 40% of businesses in the United States are owned by women. From the same study, here are a few more facts and figures about women-owned businesses:
- During the period 2007-2018, the number of women-owned businesses grew 58%, compared to all businesses, which increased by 12%.
- Over the same 11-year period, total revenue of women-owned businesses rose 46%, 10% more than revenue for all businesses.
- Today women of color own or operate 47% of all women-owned businesses, and have been the driving force behind the growth in female entrepreneurship. African American women own 2,402,600, or 20%; Latina-owned firms account for 2,142,800 or 17% of female-owned businesses.
- Half of all women-owned businesses are concentrated in three industries: health care and social assistance (including child day care and home health care services); professional, scientific and technical services (including lawyers, bookkeepers, architects, public relations firms, and consultants); and “other services” (e.g. hair and nail salons and pet care).
- Female-owned businesses in the “other services” category have experienced the most dramatic growth over the past decade, more than doubling between 2007 and 2018, from 1.3 million to 2.8 million. Today, the category comprises 23% of all women-owned businesses.
Female business owners and leaders have made huge strides over past half century, and the positive trends have accelerated more recently. However, in 2018, women hold only 4.8 of Fortune 500 CEO roles. So while there’s much to celebrate, there is still plenty of progress yet to be made to close the gender gap. Here’s to even more opportunity and success for America’s business women in the decades to come.
*Source: The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report Commissioned by American Express: Summary of Key Trends.
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