We've come a short way, baby!
In 1985, Crain's reported that more women were attracted to self-employment, with newly minted female entrepreneurs outpacing men as total self-employment in the U.S. reached 8.9 percent. In total, 30 percent of all entrepreneurs were women.
"The women of the '70s untied their apron strings to enter the workplace, but the women of the '80s are cutting their corporate attachments," wrote Launzy Sims in the May 13 issue.
Fast forward 30 years, and women now account for 35.7 percent of all entrepreneurs — at least as of 2012, the most recent data available from the U.S. Census. In total, 10.4 percent of Americans are their own boss.
In Michigan, 38.8 percent of those self-employed are women, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Women in Business. That places the mitten state 22nd in the union, behind such powerhouses as Oregon (No. 1 with 45.4 percent), New Mexico (43.3 percent) and Rhode Island (40.5 percent).
Only about 14 percent of U.S. Small Business Administration loans in Michigan in the past five years have gone to women.
But there is a bright light: Between 1997 and 2011, the number of woman-owned firms in the U.S. increased by 50 percent — a rate 1.5 times the national average — for a total of 8.1 million.
"I've seen a real resurgence in interest in becoming your own boss," said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of the Michigan Women's Foundation. "I think we're on the beginning of a wave."
The numbers of self-employed women, particularly in high-tech and high-growth businesses, may look very different in another 30 years if the anecdotal signs coming from the universities are any indication. Interest in entrepreneurship programs is at all-time high as schools scramble to incorporate the lessons of the small-business world into all disciplines.
"The skill set is broader than just starting a business," said Oscar Ybarra, the newly appointed director of Innovate Blue, which oversees all entrepreneurship programs at the University of Michigan. "Being creative, thinking about other people and what their needs and problems might be and how to help, those are skills you need even if you go work for somebody else. There are just broader skills that people will be interested in."
Read the full article "'Beginning of a wave': More women become own biz boss" at Crain's Detroit Business.