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In Business: A Path to Equality Through Entrepreneurship

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Here's one way to get around the gender inequality barrier in business: Go around it, and start your own company.

You won't be alone: A recent study shows that women are starting new businesses at twice the rate of men.

Between 1997-2014, the number of women-owned businesses rose by 68 percent, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures that was commissioned by American Express. Each and every day, women are starting 1,288 new businesses, according to the study. Today, there are more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, up from 8.6 million a year ago.

How refreshing it is to see that so many women have the courage, ability and vision to start so many businesses. It's also important to note that they're being successful, too. Over the past 17 years, these women-owned businesses have grown revenues by 72 percent. They've helped create 274,000 new jobs in the United States since 2007.

I first got interested in business while working at the Maurita Dale Shop, a dress retailer in Galesburg, Ill. when I was growing up. Mrs. Manworren, whose family owned the shop, showed me that women not only had a place in the business world, they could run their own business. Later, I spent most of my career consulting with companies run by men. I'm glad to see that's changing.

"The report clearly shows that women are choosing the path of entrepreneurship at record rates," Randi Schochet, a vice president at American Express OPEN said about the AMEX analysis of women-owned businesses. Maybe that's because women are getting fed up with being paid less than men and being denied more opportunities to advance in upper management.

It's not just gender barriers that are being broken in small businesses, it's also racial barriers.
According to the AMEX report, the number of firms owned by women of color increased more than 200 percent. Today, women of color own nearly 3 million businesses.

Some other highlights from the study:
  • Georgia had the fastest growth in women-owned businesses between 1997-2014;
  • Alaska had the lowest growth rate for women-owned businesses;
  • San Antonio has been the best cities for women-owned business when measured by number, revenues and employment;
  • St. Louis has been one of the worst cities for women-owned businesses.

It takes courage, knowledge and determination to start any company. It isn't easy, and it's especially tough for women in a male-dominated environment. Congratulations to all of those women who are paving a path to equality through entrepreneurship.