Women gain in business world

Posted: Thursday, April 05, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Women strengthened their foothold in the business world during the 1990s, aided by the decade's strong economy and gains in education, a Census Bureau report showed.

'What we've seen in the last five to 10 years is there is a lot of (government) support out there for women starting their own businesses, almost to the point where there's too much. It makes logical sense.'

--Carolyn Elman, executive director of the Kansas City, Mo.-based American Business Women's Association.

Women-owned firms generated $818.7 billion in revenue in 1997, up 33 percent from 1992, according to the Census Bureau report being released Wednesday. The number of businesses owned by women increased 16 percent to 5.4 million over the same five-year span.

The data was based on a survey separate from the 2000 census, and was the latest available. Despite its age, it offered a promising glimpse into the state of women-owned firms today, said Carolyn Elman, executive director of the Kansas City, Mo.-based American Business Women's Association.

''What we've seen in the last five to 10 years is there is a lot of (government) support out there for women starting their own businesses, almost to the point where there's too much,'' Elman said. ''It makes logical sense.''

About 24 percent of women age 25 and over -- or 21.6 million women -- had at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 28 percent of men, or 23.3 million. The percentage of women and men with at least a high school diploma was equal -- 84 percent.

Women tend to own businesses that are smaller than those run by men, the Census Bureau said. Two percent of women-owned firms had more than $1 million in receipts, compared with 5 percent of all businesses.

Women entrepreneurs tend to have less access to capital and are more likely to start up their companies using money borrowed from family and friends, Elman said.



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