508-620-1220

innovation@framingham.edu
entrepreneur innovation CENTER<br />
At Framingham State<br />
University

508-620-1220

innovation@framingham.edu

Women’s History Month: The Impact of Women Entrepreneurship

Written by Jillian Hansen

March 8, 2024

March 8th, 2024

We are one week into March, also known as Women’s History Month. This Friday, March 8th, marks International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women,” according to internationalwomensday.com. This Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the impact of women entrepreneurship in a career that has been historically male-dominated.

Women in Business

Female entrepreneurship has been on the rise, not only in the United States but also in developing countries. Globally, women own 1 in every 3 businesses (Figure 1). This trend is expected to grow as more resources become available to women entrepreneurs. Women are representing in various enterprises, from small businesses to multi-national corporations, despite having to overcome various challenges such as the wage gap, lack of funding, and persistent gender stereotypes.

Graph showing the percentage share of small, medium, and large firms with a woman among the principal owners around the world.

Figure 1

As women, we have fought for equality and recognition together from the first wave of feminism in the 1840s when women fought for the right to vote, through the 1970s and the fight for women’s liberation, all the way up until the fourth wave of feminism in the early 2000s which addressed the wage gap head-on. Women have fought together historically – represented by their collaborative and community-based nature of conducting business, compared to the competitive and achievement-based nature of many male-dominated industries, such as the tech world. Women know the importance of mentoring and supporting their fellow women to help each other gain access and recognition in such a male-dominated world. Continued collaboration will help promote mutual success and inspire a more robust network of women entrepreneurs.

Challenges for Women

Although women are pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams more frequently, there are still challenges to overcome. The wage gap is still a reality in the United States despite the gap narrowing slightly over recent years. Women usually start at the same salary as their male coworkers, but as they get older and spend more time with the company, their wages do not match those of men with the same tenure (see Figure 2). In addition, the gap narrowed more so for White women compared to Black and Hispanic women. The gender wage gap is influenced heavily by gender stereotypes that need to be addressed for women to see real change in the workplace. The over-arching challenge for women entrepreneurs today is fighting gender stereotypes and biases regarding women’s roles and capabilities and advocating for increased support and resources from government agencies.

chart showing the median hourly earnings of women in the U.S. as a percentage of the median hourly earnings of men, by age

Figure 2

In 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that the “SBA will expand the Women Business Centers network, bringing the total to 160 centers across the country that assist women entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, business development, and financing opportunities.” Support from government administration is so important to women entrepreneurs, as lack of capital and other funding has disproportionately impacted women who want to start a business. Support from government agencies is another way to empower the new generation of women entrepreneurs.

Despite facing stereotypes and a lack of resources, women are starting businesses and proving they are here to stay. Today’s women entrepreneurs are paving the way for the next generation as they continue to drive innovation, mentor their fellow businesswomen, and fight for equal pay and recognition at all levels of business.

 

Written by Jillian Hansen, general and internship coordinator at the Entrepreneur Innovation Center and marketing student at Framingham State University.

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