Women’s History Month gives us a chance to reflect on the important role that women business owners play in our economy. When I was getting my start in business, women owned just five percent of companies. Today, they own close to 30 percent, and they are one of the fastest-growing segments of small business ownership. Also, the number of women in the labor force is equal to the number of men, and women have caught up to men in college attendance.
Of course, as we learned in a new White House report, despite these gains in education and work force involvement, women still struggle with wage and income equity. At the SBA, we know that business ownership is one path for women to find greater economic independence and financial security. That is why all of us at the SBA are committed to helping women who want to start and grow businesses.
We are very pleased that women-owned businesses have a new tool do just that. It is called the Women’s Contracting Rule. It provides better opportunities for women-owned businesses to compete for, and win, federal contracts in over 80 areas where they are currently underrepresented.
Recently, we announced that women business owners can upload their information to become certified for the program. And we expect that federal agencies will have everything up and running by the all-important fourth quarter of the fiscal year (this summer), which is when the largest portion of federal agency purchasing takes place.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, our task is to give women the tools they need to thrive in business. We have come a long way, but we must remain diligent in ensuring that women can go even further.