07/16/2012 05:08 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

Women Entrepreneurs Struggle To Grow Their Businesses (INFOGRAPHIC)

"Steady growth but a lack of progress" is how a team of researchers commissioned by American Express has described the state of women-owned businesses in the U.S.

Despite the fact that the number of women-owned firms grew between 1997 and 2012 at a rate exceeding the national average, and now account for 29 percent of all U.S. businesses, companies with female owners only employ 6 percent of the nation's workforce and contribute just under 4 percent of business revenues.

That's according to American Express' latest "State of Women-Owned Businesses Report," which found that the picture for men-owned firms isn't much brighter.

"While men-owned firms are, on average, larger than women-owned firms," the report's authors wrote, "they, too, have not moved up the growth continuum." Over the past 14 years, the share of men-owned firms with 10 or more employees has declined, as has the share of men-owned firms with $1 million or more in annual revenue, according to the study.

Part of the reason women entrepreneurs in particular struggle to expand their businesses may be a dearth of venture capital. Despite owning nearly 30 percent of U.S. businesses, women attract only 5 percent of the nation's equity capital, a book recently released by the Kauffman Foundation found. And when it came to first-year funding, Kauffman's data showed that women received 80 percent less capital than men.

The cheery infographic below, released by AMEX, does a nice job of burying the gloomy findings in the report, which can be found here. What do you think?