May 27, VP of Operations and Retail Services, Rose Gundersen, addressed an early morning crowd at the Kelso-Longview Chamber’s Small Business Boot Camp.
Her presentation was focused on how women in business leadership have changed history. Gundersen shared that, according to a 2019 report, the number of female entrepreneurs and the size of their employee ranks had grown over two and four times, respectively, compared to overall growth in entrepreneurship. Their revenue growth, however, was about the same as the overall growth for entrepreneurs. Further research points to access to capital as the number one common barrier to growth for female entrepreneurs. Removing funding barriers is the essence of the Women Business Ownership Act (WBOA), and Gundersen noted that continued work will be required to expand access to capital for entrepreneurial businesswomen.
Representation of women in business sector leadership has grown at a snail’s pace. In the U.S., females in senior vice president positions increased from 23% to 28% from 2015 to 2020. During that same period, women in the C-suite grew from 17% to 21%, and women in CEO positions grew merely 6% globally.
CEOs have expressed the need for skills beyond technical business knowledge or experience, creating opportunities for women. The top six high-demand skills include problem-solving, collaboration, adaptability, leadership, creativity and innovation, and emotional intelligence. According to the 2017 research article, “Winning the fight for female talent,” these intuitive leadership skills are most often found in females.
Boot camp attendees offered insights and feedback after hearing the data presented. While women are gaining ground in entrepreneurship and business leadership positions, time and advocacy are needed to continue the momentum of the paradigm shift.