Celebrating Women’s History Month

March 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of Women’s History Month being officially recognized in the United States, and it’s an incredible time to be a women-owned business. Women own about 12 million businesses in the U.S., and employ over 10.1 million workers. Women-owned businesses have grown 114% in the last two decades. About half of all startups in the U.S. are founded by women. Businesses with gender diverse teams are more likely to have above average profitability. Women’s roles in leadership are increasing, and women start approximately 149 new businesses every day in the U.S. The statistics are endless, and the gains feel even more remarkable when you take into consideration how near we are to a time when this was not possible.

Women’s History Month was officially recognized in the U.S. in 1984. Only ten years before that, in 1974, women were unable to hold a credit card in their own name. in 1980, only 52% of women participated in the workforce. It was not until 1988 that the Women’s Business Ownership Act allowed women to obtain a business loan without a male co-signer (this makes the fact that the number of women-owned businesses has increased more than 3000% time since 1972 unsurprising). And yes, you could argue that these things are all solidly in the past. However, March marks another, and much more recent, important anniversary in women’s history as it pertains to their participation in the workforce.

March 2024 marks 4 years since the Covid-19 Pandemic began in earnest in the U.S. With childcare outages across the country, children home from school during distance learning, and the incredible burnout rates in women dominated professions such as teaching and healthcare, approximately 2 million women left the workforce in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19. Women were disproportionately affected professionally by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, showcasing how difficult it can still be for women who are parents or caretakers to maintain balance in their work and family responsibilities. Four years on, these numbers have since rebounded. What a coincidence that we can spend time during Women’s History Month to reflect on how women have overcome the single biggest obstacle to gender parity in recent memory during the very month it began.

In addition to the serious disruption of the pandemic, there are other current challenges that women in business face. In 2022, all-women startup teams received only 1.9% of the total venture capital allocated that year, and the percentage of total investment in all women-led businesses is dropping. Women-owned startups also pay a higher interest rate on loans than men. These statistics may not be surprising, and neither is it surprising that despite the fact that the playing field is still not level, women are succeeding in business at an astounding rate.

Catalina Associates is one of those 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S, and we could not be more thrilled to highlight the bright future we see for women in business. We know that we would not be where we are today without the women entrepreneurs who endured through tougher times than we see now, and we are excited to see what the next generation of women business leaders will do.

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