What Does it Mean to Be a Woman in Business in 2021?

It means a test of determination met with strength of purpose and courage to challenge the status quo.

To be a woman in business in 2021 means that you are among women who have launched more than 1,200 new businesses every day in the United States. It also means that you are among women-owned businesses which generate around 1.9 trillion dollars in revenue. In Texas alone, there are more than 860,000 women-owned firms.

So if you’re a woman in business – Congratulations!

Women own 40% of US businesses today, while 64% of new women-owned businesses were started by women of color last year, and Latina women-owned businesses grew more than 87%.

These are impressive numbers that dispel any doubt about the perseverance of female entrepreneurs being on the rise, not just within the US, but globally.

Still the challenges exist and evidence that women are rising to these roadblocks was the theme at this year’s International Women’s Day Conference.  A resounding call to challenge gender bias and inequality was woven throughout with “from challenge comes change” and a call to action of “Choose to Challenge.”

It’s interesting to note that 62% of women business owners are between the ages of 40 and 59. Around 80% of these women have college degrees, statistics show. Building and gathering experience takes a lot of time, which explains why only 30% of these women are younger than 40. This means that it takes years of dedication, commitment and hard work to succeed in building connections, relationships and capital to effectively run a business.

In What Sectors of Business are There More Women-Owned Businesses?

Women-owned firms tend to be more concentrated in certain industries. The ABS  (Annual Business Survey) shows that 191,230 or approximately 16.8% of the nation’s total 1.1 million women-owned firms in 2018, were classified in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector.

Pioneering Business Women in History

There are far too many to list in one place, but here are a few pioneering female movers and shakers from history to remember.

Rebecca Lukens (1794–1854) was the owner and manager of Lukens Steel Company of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, an industry dominated by men at the time.

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) was an Astronomer who discovered a comet in 1847, after which the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the most prestigious honorary societies, elected her as its first woman member.

Margaret Borland (1824 –1873) was a Texas Rancher and Pioneer Female Trail Driver In the mid-1800s. Cattle ranching was becoming big business in Texas, but not all ranchers were men.

Fidelia Bridges (1834 – 1923) was one of the most renowned artists of her time and one of the very few women artists who supported herself with her work. She was known for her delicately detailed nature paintings.

What Women Bring to Innovation Today

As women become more influential in the world of business, they bring with them fresh ideas and a world of innovation. Regardless of the industry, gender equality stimulates many new products, services, and businesses. Industries benefit, but so do consumers, offering more choices, many of which are more relevant. It’s also becoming more evident that companies become more profitable when women take the helm.

A New Leadership Approach

Women who lead and own their own businesses add a refreshing approach to leadership. They bring a unique set of management skills and core competencies that can create change. Besides the hard skills needed for C-suite and executive roles, women bring soft skills that have a measurable, positive impact.

A 2016 study conducted by Korn Ferry found that women score higher than men in 11 of the 12 emotional intelligence competencies. These include abilities such as conflict management, adaptability, and teamwork — all essential for successful workplace leadership.

Diversity and Inclusion Amplified

As women find paths into the corporate world, broader issues such as diversity and inclusion are better represented.  As more women are seen as inspirational role models in business, the more attractive the industry becomes to others. Women help other women through mentorship and coaching, encouraging them to enter into and thrive in a more inclusive working environment.

Social Norms Rethought

Harmful social norms and stereotypes about women and men are some of the major reasons the gender gap persists. These social norms will shift as more successful women succeed in creating positive change.  Women leaders and business owners are helping to break down harmful stereotypes and challenging the status quo. They are shaping the future of business for years to come, inspiring generations that follow in their footsteps.