2017 has been called “The Golden Age for Female Entrepreneurs,” and it’s easy to see why. With more than 9 million businesses owned by women in the U.S. today, it’s obvious that more and more women are choosing not to wait for power or leadership positions to be handed to them. Instead, many are using their entrepreneurial spirit to launch their own companies.
In the past decade, Indiana has secured a spot on the map as a swiftly growing tech hub, becoming a serious contender with the major tech giants that dominate the East and West coasts. Smart Asset, a New York-based financial technology company, recently released a 2017 report ranking Indianapolis as the fourth best city for women in tech. Unfortunately, while Indiana should be proud of it’s rising potential and opportunities available for women in tech to succeed, the same can’t be said for the rest of the nation. The Smart Asset findings also concluded that nationwide, the percentage of computer and mathematical jobs filled by women steadily remain at a disappointing 26%. Additionally, and perhaps just as disappointing, the findings also confirmed that while female tech workers earn more than their male counterparts in a few select cities, the majority of women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work. These statistics speak volumes about the gender disparity still evident in the workforce today, despite the leaps and bounds women have made towards reaching equality.
While the tech opportunities for women in Indianapolis seems to be a cause for celebration, there are prevalent problems that still plague the business world. Overall, women still lag behind men in number of startups, and companies owned by women tend not to grow and profit nearly as much as those owned by men. According to the 2016 State of Women Owned Businesses report, only 3 percent of female-owned firms in the U.S. have “high economic impact,” generating $500,000 or more in revenue, compared to 9 percent of male-owned firms. Thus, again, it’s clear that despite the recent strides made towards equality, women still have a long way to go.
The statistics show that more women are clearly embracing entrepreneurship, so what’s to blame for the deficit of successful female entrepreneurs? The systemic challenges women are up against are all too common — male-dominated workplaces, a lack of business-focused curriculum in our education system, lack of mentorship, narrow funding opportunities, and overall, ingrained institutional sexism.
Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S workforce and more than half of our college graduates. The lack of women-generated startups should be prioritized as an economic issue that affects everyone. A greater number of entrepreneurial women in positions of power or leadership is not only beneficial to women, it creates a more tolerant, diverse, and creative business landscape that can only improve efficiency and productivity. Achieving that reality relies on women willing to support one another and working together toward mutual growth.
As a recent article published in Indianapolis Monthly put it, “More trained female entrepreneurs will lead to more mentors and investors, which in turn may diminish the bias women face in the business.” There’s already evidence of women helping women in business, both in Indianapolis and across the country. Each year at the Indiana Conference for Women, the Startup Ladies host a pitch competition, designed to present female entrepreneurs with greater opportunities for success. The Tory Burch Foundation, Broadway Angels, Astia Angels, Plum Alley, BBG and Aspect Ventures, are all women-owned businesses currently investing in other women-owned businesses, in an effort to generate success.
Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest and former ICFW 2015 featured speaker, recognizes that women doing well helps everyone She has stated that having successful female entrepreneurs, “helps blaze the trail for others; it helps provide role models; it can help close the gender gaps we all face… But in a world where women recognize the power that they own — and where technology can upend the traditional rules of engagement — one woman winning doesn’t mean another loses. We can all win together.”
While 2017 may be thought of by some as “The Golden Age for Female Entrepreneurs,” perhaps it should be regarded as the age where women can come together to help each other, to support each other, and to push one another to reach their full career potential. Doing so can only help further the movement for gender equality, promote diversity in the workplace, and increase opportunities for women everywhere.