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In 2018 we saw more women launching some of the most innovative companies and making up 40% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. According to the the National Association of Women Business Owners there are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S that employ 9 million people and generate $1.7 trillion in revenue. We also saw more women investors and more women launching funds. These figures are even higher in Latin America.
In 2018 we saw a record number of women run for office in the US and get elected to Congress. These include some of the youngest and most diverse women in US political history like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress, Lauren Underwood, the first Black person and first woman to represent IL-14, Sharice Davids, the first Native American women serving in Congress, and also the first LGBTQ+ Member to represent the state of Kansas in Washington.
In 2019 we will very likely see a record number of women running for President of the United States. These include Senator Elizabeth Warren who just announced her Presidential exploratory committee today, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
And on some of the toughest and politically divisive issues we saw powerful women leaders emerge. 18-year old Emma Gonzalez, along with her Parkland schoolmates took on the gun lobby, launched #MarchForOurLives across the US, and campaigned to register young voters. Across the pond in Ireland, citizens voted to outlaw abortion, despite the money flowing in from the pro-life lobby.
While some claim that 2018 was the year of the woman, it “forced us to take a step back for every step forward. That isn’t real progress. Focusing on the inclusion of women in politics [and business] is misplaced if the structures that promoted our exclusion don’t change,” said Sabrina Hersi Issa in her latest oped.
“When women assume their rightful place at helms of power, it should not be hailed as a beacon of hope, but as a long-overdue and rightful rebalancing of the scales, said Issa.
How do we rebalance those scales going into 2019?
Fund More Women-Led Startups.
There’s a huge ROI for investing in women-led startups. Women-led teams have a 35% higher return on investment than all-male ones, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation. The study also found that when women tech entrepreneurs get venture capital, they generate 12% higher revenue compared to firms founded by all men.
A new study by ProPublica and the Urban Institute shows 50%+ of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, which can cause irreversible financial damage. This is not just happening in corporate America. It’s happening across the board including funding startups founded by women over 50. I’ve seen several women launch startups who are 50+, have had very successful careers, with prior exits, and struggle to raise capital once they are over 50. Ageism is thriving and it’s crippling innovation.
More Women Running for Office
Even after the 2018 midterms, less than 3,000 women serve as U.S. senators, congressional representatives, governors, state legislators, and mayors in cities with populations of more than 30,000, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. We need more diverse perspectives at the table, advocating for people in this country, and governing. A good resource for this is She Should Run.
More Transparency and Accountability
The #MeToo movement empowered more women to come forward about their experiences with sexual harassment and in some cases name their harassers. And in the startup world, many women in tech continued to talk about the harassment and discrimination they faced raising capital. For example, in one of our Women Who Tech surveys from over the summer, we found that 58% of women founders surveyed said they have experienced some form of harassment. This number increases to 75% among founders who are women of color. And 24% of women founders say they have experienced sexual harassment from either an investor, client, employee, or journalist.
Companies, VC firms, government agencies, etc. need much more transparency and accountability moving forward. In 2019, we need less lip service to “BelieveWomen” and more action to supporting and empowering women to be “…in all of the places where decisions are being made.” – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
December 31, 2018 at 05:24PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs