Business & Economy

Women-owned businesses less profitable, study says

Women in Vermont own half as many businesses as men, and the businesses they do own tend to bring in less revenue than male-owned businesses, according to a new study.

Change the Story Vermont, a campaign to advance the status of women in the state, performed the study.

The data was taken from a 2012 survey of business owners from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The study says that women own 23,417 businesses, or one-third of all businesses in Vermont. At the state level, 7.25 percent of working women own businesses, compared to 3.9 percent nationally.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of women-owned businesses make less than $50,000 per year, compared to just 60 percent of male-owned businesses. Only 1 percent of women-owned business made more than $1 million per year, compared to 6 percent of male-owned businesses.

On average, businesses owned by women made about $95,000 annually in 2012, compared to $498,000 for male-owned businesses.

Women-owned businesses in Vermont also make less than similar firms at the national level, according to the study. The average revenue for a women-owned Vermont firm was $94,695 in 2012, compared to $143,731 at the national level.

Amelia Gulkis is a minority owner of EnSave Inc. in Richmond and a board member of the Women Business Owner’s Network. She said that while women own a large number of businesses, the profitability gap was striking.

“It’s clear from those statistics that women-owned businesses are much smaller, profit-wise, and have far fewer employees than male-owned businesses, so that was pretty striking,” Gulkis said.

Gulkis said she would like to know whether women feel like they shouldn’t hire employees. “It’s kind of like the lean in phenomenon,” she said. “Are women checking out prematurely from wanting to grow the business to the next step?”

The report said stakeholders should be asking whether society routinely celebrates the achievements of female entrepreneurs, or whether women are supported in considering business ownership as a viable option.

The report also asked whether the state intentionally invites women-owned businesses to bid on state contracts, and whether the state reports consistently on how many contracts are awarded to women-owned businesses.

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Erin Mansfield

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