How Women Are Growing the Global Economy


We talk a lot about wage disparity, workplace boys’ clubs, and the confidence gap that hinders female investors. All important issues. But here are equally important facts: Women are starting companies at an unprecedented rate, increasingly becoming family breadwinners, and accumulating massive wealth.

Today we want to focus on all the ways women are growing the nation’s economy. Here are 11 reasons to celebrate.

1. Women are accumulating money fast.

It’s estimated that women will earn $14 trillion nationwide in 2014, a 50 percent bump over 2011’s numbers. That number is projected to climb over the next 15 years: Women are slated to control two-thirds of the United States’ wealth by 2030.

2. Women are investing in growing numbers.

Angel investing might still be a predominantly male game (only 22 percent of angel investors are women). But the critical figure here is the 50 percent jump in angel investments from women between 2011 and 2012. And here’s where things get exciting: There’s a definitive trend of female investors backing women-run ventures. Furthermore, women control more than half of investment wealth — 51 percent, in fact — in the U.S.

3. Women will inherit 70 percent of future wealth over the course of the next two generations.

This figure doesn’t even include wealth earned by women. It simply deals with the money women are set to inherit over the next two generations. This means women (who, as we mentioned, already control more than half of investable wealth) are poised to take on an even greater amount of investable wealth and power.

4. When it comes to spending, women are calling the shots.

Worldwide, women make a staggering 80 percent of all buying decisions (and some estimates put that figure closer to 90 percent). This is a huge trump card. To break it down, women in the U.S. make 80 percent of health care decisions, 65 percent of new-car purchase decisions, and 91 percent of home-buying decisions.

5. More women at the top means significantly higher profits.

In a 2007 study of 520 Fortune 500 companies, Catalyst divided the companies into four sections depending on the number of female board directors. So how did the group with the highest percentage of female board directors fare compared to the group with the lowest?

On average, the companies with the highest percentage of female board directors posted 53 percent higher return on equity than companies with the lowest percentage of female board directors. That same comparison showed a 42 percent higher return on sales and 66 percent higher return on invested capital. It sends a pretty clear message: Companies that promote women are doing better than their male-dominated counterparts.

But wait, there’s more.

6.  More women working means a higher GDP (gross domestic product).

In terms of the economy as a whole, participation from women is key. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that the profound increase of women in the workforce since the 1970s is responsible for 25 percent of the current GDP. (Women went from holding 37 percent of jobs in 1970 to 47 percent jobs in 2009.) Without the 38 million women who joined the workforce over the last four decades, the GDP would be a quarter smaller.

7.  Women own almost a third of U.S. businesses.

The 2007 census found that women owned 7.8 million American businesses (not including farms), clocking in at 28.7 percent of all business ownership. And it looks like that number has grown to 9.1 million businesses this year.

8. Women-owned businesses employ 7.7 million people in the U.S.

Or put another way: Women employ almost 3 million more people than the top ten U.S. employers like Walmart, Target, and IBM employ — combined. Let’s hear it for the #girlboss.

9. Women are opening businesses at record rates.

Employment numbers are set to increase dramatically given the rate at which women are opening businesses. The State-Owned Business Report analyzed U.S. Census data and found that the number of women-owned businesses has increased 68 percent since 1997. In fact, women are starting businesses at a rate of 1.5 times the national average.

10. Women are turning out to be our greatest innovators.

We’re seeing innovation from female entrepreneurs all over the place, from cornering the market on new products for children to reinventing traditional industries like fertility tracking or coupon shopping. Instead of chasing the next big idea, these innovations are demonstrating just how useful the more measured ways women approach problems can be.

11. Women are increasingly family breadwinners.

Sixty-four percent of families are either fully dependent or partly dependent on incomes brought in by mothers. Forty-eight percent of mothers with children under 18 work full time, while 16 percent work part time. Plus there are 7.3 million mothers who are providing the sole income for their families, and in 37 percent of households with two opposite-gender spouses, the woman outearns the man.

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