Owning your own business is often touted as the ultimate coup in the working world. You set your own hours, pursue projects you're interested in, and maybe work in your pajamas. Obvious challenges aside, it sounds like a pretty nice gig. Such jobs are largely enjoyed by men, who make up an estimated 71 percent of business owners in the U.S. But that might slowly be changing.
A report from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that women are steadily increasing their presence in the world of small-business ownership. About 29 percent of America's business owners are women, that’s up from 26 percent in 1997. The number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007, compared with 47 percent for all businesses.
The progress for minority women has been particularly swift, with business ownership skyrocketing by 265 percent since 1997, the report says. And minorities now make up one in three female-owned businesses, up from only one in six less than two decades ago.
Why have minority women had such an apparent breakthrough in the world of entrepreneurship? It’s partially a numbers game—in 1997 minority women represented such a small number of owners—less than one million—that even moderate growth would have likely helped them outpace the growth of the broader field of women-owners. But Jessica Milli, a senior research associate at IWPR, says that the characteristics of minority women who opt to open businesses may also play a role in the runaway growth.