The Ten Most Womenabling Hashtags of 2015

It’s that time of the year … time for Top Ten lists! Womenable has joined in on the list-making since 2009, focusing primarily on the most noteworthy womenabling news, events and research of the year or – in the case of 2013 (the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988) – of the previous 25 years.

Last year, we departed from our usual practice, distilling the top womenabling news of 2014 down to the top research-based factoids/soundbites.

This year, our 2015 Top Ten list – in keeping with growing trend toward shorter and sharper communication – is distilled even further, focusing on the top women’s empowerment hashtags of the year.

Now, there have been many feminist/social issue hashtags (such as #BringBackOurGirls, #YesAllWomen, #EverydaySexism, and #MeuPrimeiroAssedio [myfirstharrassment]) as well as a few interesting corporate “You Go, Girl” hashtags (with corresponding well-produced videos: #LikeaGirl and #ShineStrong primary among them), but here we want to focus on empowerment as a social media conversation.

So here, in alphabetical order within the general topic of conversation, is Womenable’s assessment of the Top Ten women’s empowerment hashtags of 2015:

All for One/One for All: These three hashtags are focused on rallying fellow women – and men – in working together for greater gender equality.allforone

  1. #AllinForHer, an initiative of Women Moving Millions.
  2. #HeforShe, an effort launched by UN Women on #IWD2014 with the star power of Emma Watson.
  3. #IronSisters, an exhortation of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes for women to help other women, especially in non-traditional fields such as STEM.

Confronting Stereotypes: These three hashtags rose up from women responding to sexist stereotypes: the “boys with toys” notion that only men like technology or engineering, or to throwback ad campaigns.looklikeanengineer

  1. #GirlsWithToys, a social media response to an offhand comment from a male scientist, showing that girls like science, too.
  2. The misogynistic responses from a seemingly harmless company recruitment campaign prompted this hashtag response. #ILookLikeanEngineer is well worth a look.
  3. The feminist social media response from a “what were they thinking” ad campaign launched by a mobile phone company in India, #WhatWomenLove, is likewise well worth reading. (Also, this just in: IBM, normally a forward-thinking corporation with respect to gender diversity, is catching flak for an ill-thought-out hashtag campaign, #HackaHairDryer. Sheesh!)

Entrepreneurial Women: The only one of our top ten hashtags focused on women’s entrepreneurship, this social multi-media campaign gathered the stories of 1,000 women who are growing their own enterprising ventures.

  1. #1000Stories, from our friends at The Story Exchange

 

Where Are the Women?: These three social media conversations highlight the fact that women are still missing from many seats of power, and are underrepresented in STEM professions.

  1. How to solve challenges in science, technology, engineering and math? #AddWomen!
  2. It’s lonely at the top. A recent video from Elle Magazine in the UK, with the hashtag #MoreWomen, shows this in eye-catching fashion.
  3. The No Ceilings initiative from the Clinton Foundation showcases some of the tremendous progress being made worldwide in the area of gender equality, while admitting that we’re #NotThere yet.

 

Christmas Bonus: And here’s a special bonus hashtag, #PayGapWTF, a youth-focused response to learning that, yes, women are still paid less than men for the same work. WTF indeed!

Have we missed any? Let us know. Happy holidays from Womenable, and best wishes for a womenabling New Year.

Top Ten Womenabling Research Facts of 2014

Top TenWe’ve kept tabs on the facts and figures that have been published during the course of the year (as we do every year). Here are what we consider to be the top ten new research-based facts about women business owners and their enterprises of 2014. They fall into four general categories: money, mentoring, metrics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Here they are, along with links to the original source material for your reference. Many happy returns of the season from Womenable!

Money

  1. International CurrencyClosing the credit cap for women-owned SMEs across the developing world as a whole could boost the growth in per capita income by over 110 basis points (1.1%) on average. ~ Goldman Sachs Global Market Institute. February 2014. Giving credit where it is due.

  2. In an analysis of over 25,000 projects on Kickstarter, launched by 22,000 entrepreneurs between 2009 and 2012 and supported by over 1.1 million investors, researchers found that this crowdfunding platform is more hospitable than many other forms of business financing for women. For example: 1) a significant share of Kickstarter investors (40%) are women; 2) these women are more likely than men (40% versus 23%) to invest in women-led projects; and 3) women-led projects are more successful than those launched by men. The fundraising success rate for women was 69.5%, compared to 61.4% for men. ~ Dan Maroum, Alicia Robb, Orly Sade. May 2014. Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding (Kickstarter): Evidence on Entrepreneurs, Investors, Deals and Taste Based Discrimination.


  3. The amount of early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years. Despite this positive trend, 85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team. This is the case despite the finding that businesses with a woman on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding (64 percent higher and 49 percent higher, respectively). ~ Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene, Lakshmi Balachandra, Amy E. Davis. September 2014. Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital.


  4. In 2013 women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market, similar to 2012 (21.8%). Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2013. ~ Jeffrey Sohl, Center for Venture Research. April 2014. The Angel Investor Market in 2013: A Return to Seed Investing.

Mentors

  1. Closeup of business people with hands on handsAn analysis of high-growth women entrepreneurs (those with sales or employment growth of 20%+ over the past three years) in Latin America and the Caribbean finds that growing up in an entrepreneurial family helps define their entrepreneurial spirit. Both high-growth men and women are more likely than average to seek mentors to guide their growth. However, while high-growth men entrepreneurs seek mentors from outside their family, women tend to receive guidance from within their own families. ~ EY, Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. March 2014. WEGrow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

  2. A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Metrics

  1. measuring_tape copyIn an analysis of the conditions in which growth-oriented women’s entrepreneurship can prosper, the United States (with a score of 83), Australia (80) and Sweden (73) are the top ranking countries among 30 analyzed. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51) which all received an overall score of 50 or more. ~ Ruta Aidis, The GEDI Institute. June 2014. The Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index.

  2. As of 2012, just under one-third (29%) of the 40.6 million business owners in Europe are women, up from 26% in 2003. Over that nine-year period, the share of business owners who are female has risen most strongly in Lichtenstein (with a 16% increase in the share of entrepreneurs who are female), Iceland (+8%), and Cyprus (+8%), compared with the overall 3% increase. ~ European Commission. September 2014. Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe.


  3. On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase of 591 women-owned businesses in the United States each and every day. The number of net new women-owned firms has fallen in the wake of the recession – there was a net increase of 714 women-owned firms per day from 2002 to 2007, and a lesser 506 per day between 2007 and 2014 – but start-up activity is increasing. Just in the past year, there have been an estimated 1,288 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day. ~ American Express OPEN & Womenable. March 2014. The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

STEM

  1. womanlab copyWomen have increased their representation in STEM graduate enrollment, but that increase has been uneven across STEM fields. Women have achieved parity for PhDs in biological and medical sciences, but their enrollment continues to lag in some of the most entrepreneurial fields, such as bioengineering, mechanical, and civil engineering and materials science. Further, across all STEM fields, female PhDs have lower rates of entrepreneurship than their male colleagues (5% compared to 7%), and file fewer patents (15% vs. 28%). ~ Margaret E. Blume-Kohout for SBA Office of Advocacy. October 2014. Understanding the Gender Gap in STEM Fields Entrepreneurship.

  2. (A 2-for-1 listing: this report also appeared in our ‘mentors’ category) A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

The UK’s Power Women

The Womenabler has long been a fan of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – we download and listen to many a show on our long womenabling flights around the globe. Last year, Woman’s Hour followed the trials and tribulations of three women entrepreneurs, pairing them up with mentors and discussing their entrepreneurial growth pains at regular intervals during the year. It was fascinating, illuminating and – we would guess – very inspirational for listeners thinking of starting and growing their own businesses.

womenshourlistpicThis year, they’ve set a new high bar – announcing a Power List of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. The build-up to the announcement was interesting to listen to, as they highlighted the advancement – or lack thereof – of women in business, politics, education, science and sport. It was a thoughtful, open process and the list is an interesting mix of the elite and the street-smart. Of course, #1 on the list is Queen Elizabeth, and many of the others in the ranked top-twenty lists are Dames and Right Honorables (position defines clout, in the UK and elsewhere). However, the list also includes such built-it-not-born-into-it women as singer Adele, noted architect Zaha Hadid, author JK Rowling, and a variety of women in sport, business, politics and civil society.

It’s a wonderful mix of women from a variety of walks of life, and generations, but some have commented that it’s not a very ethnically diverse list and that there were political and face-saving motivations for embarking upon this quest. But then, the halls of power are still relatively homogenous. By our eye, this women’s power list is much more diverse on so many levels than a gender-blind power list would be. And, whatever the motivations may have been, it’s a wonderful window on the world of women’s influence in the United Kingdom, a good conversation-starter about who may be missing from the list, and a feather in the cap of a fine radio program that, in our view, deserves more than a moment in the spotlight.

Check out the Woman’s Hour Power List, the stories behind how the list was chosen, and some of the commentary following the announcement of the list – including the chagrin of some that the Duchess of Cambridge was not included in the list.

Well done, Woman’s Hour!

Womenable’s Top Ten

For the fourth straight year, we devoted our end of year e-newsletter to a review of the most noteworthy womenabling events of 2012. Just in case you don’t subscribe to our quarterly e-news (CLICK HERE  if you’d like to do so), we’ve repeated here our list – in no particular order – of the ten most important research reports, events, and emerging trends of the year:

  1. Numbers go visual: There’s been quite an increase in the use of infographics to share data and research in a visual way. We’re proud that our 2012 report on The State of Women-Owned Businesses has been named by PR Week as a finalist in the ‘Best Use of Analytics’ category. The communications this year included a large social media campaign, including infographics. Here are some of Womenable’s favorite infographics, on a Pinterest board.
  2. Data portals: There’s been a great leap forward this year in the aggregation of research information on women’s economic empowerment. Most particularly, the World Bank this year launched a Gender Data Portal, which grants widespread access to a plethora of statistics, including the ability to compare countries and regions, as well as to look at trends in a number of measures over time. It’s nirvana for womenablers everywhere!
  3. Data at hand: Speaking of data nirvana, there are now a number of smartphone apps that can place statistical information literally at your fingertips. Check out the US Census Bureau’s America’s Economy app, the World Bank’s Data Finder app, and the visually-appealing Women of the World iPad optimized e-book from Fotopedia and the World Bank. (Another great e-book, which we mentioned in last year’s list, is the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report, Gender Equality and Development.)
  4. Telling stories: Even those of us who are quantitatively focused recognize the value of personalizing research, and using profiles and stories to impart knowledge, stir emotions, and spur action. There’s a new player in this space, who’s building a fabulous community of womenabling stories, The Story Exchange. Check them out – and also learn more about their 1,000 Stories initiative. Here’s one of my favorite stories from their website of high-quality video vignettes:
  5. The “Having It All” myth re-exposed: In late 2010, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg made a splash with a TEDWomen speech during which she essentially told women to “man up” (my paraphrasing) if they wanted to get ahead. The YouTube video of her remarks has gotten nearly 2 million views. (Not as many as Gangnam Style, but pretty high for something related to women’s empowerment!) An equally big, if not bigger, splash was made this year by Ann-Marie Slaughter, Princeton professor and former senior official in the U.S. State Department, in a July cover story in the Atlantic magazine, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” exploring the family pressures that led to her departure from the federal government. It lit up the blogosphere, and certainly showed that, while women have made a lot of progress, it’s not been without sacrifice and there are a lot of heated opinions on the many facets of this issue.
  6. Making headway in high tech?: Speaking of Sheryl Sandberg, the topic of women in tech has a similar “push me-pull you” dialogue going on about how to get more women in STEM fields. Do they just need to toughen up and push ahead, or should existing paradigms be shifted to be more accepting to the differing leadership styles and professional goals of women in the field? Modeling the former modus operandi is new Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer – who caused a kerfuffle when revealing her pregnancy shortly after taking the helm, but getting right back to business soon after giving birth. Taking a different tack is Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe, who has singlehandedly changed the environment – and increased the success – of female engineering and technology students on campus. So, too, new social networks such as Girls Who Code and Girl Geeks chart a different path by creating a collegial environment for women in a still very male-dominated field. It remains to be seen which approach will lead to greater success, but perhaps you can guess which side we come down on!
  7. Increased focus on access to markets: Last year, we pointed out that an increasing number of corporations are investing in the development of women’s business enterprises as suppliers – shifting their emphasis from “corporate social responsibility” to “value chain development.” International trade is an important element of market access, and a valuable link in this value chain is the International Trade Centre’s Access! initiative for women business owners in Africa, and their Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors – which included a trade exhibition and forum in Mexico City just last month. In addition, the 2nd quarter 2012 issue of their Trade Forum magazine, Empowering Women, Empowering Trade, focused entirely on access to trade issues for women-owned enterprises.
  8. Gender equality – continued Nordic dominance: For the past seven years, the World Economic Forum has released a Global Gender Gap Report. While some nations rise and fall in this global ranking of gender equality in the areas of health, education, political leadership and economic participation, one region has dominated the rankings since the beginning – the Nordic economies of Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Read more about the trends and download the current and previous reports at THIS LINK.
  9. Increasing the robustness of indices and lists: While the Global Gender Gap Report remains an important source of data on gender equality, its rankings are based on relatively few variables, none of which include business ownership or self-employment. There are now other players in the game, increasing the robustness of global rankings. First, the OECD has updated and expanded its Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), which evaluates 100 economies on a number of measures that impact gender equality. The variables included in the rankings include existence of domestic violence legislation, women’s mobility and discriminatory inheritance practices – highlighting the sometimes hidden ways that inequality is perpetuated. Secondly, the Economist Intelligence Unit, author of the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB-MIF) to produce WEVentureScope, an analysis of environmental factors that make it easy – or more difficult – for women to start and grow businesses. This soon-to-come index will finally add women’s entrepreneurship into a country ranking equation – at least for Latin America and the Caribbean. Viva!
  10. Recognizing the contributions of unsung heroines: Most business awards and lists focus on economic impact – who generates the highest revenues, employs the most workers, or has grown the fastest in either or both of those areas over a period of time. The International Alliance for Women has done things a little differently, and we think that’s all to the good. For the past five years, their World of Difference Awards have focused on recognizing women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial enablers who are making a difference to the triple bottom line – largely without fanfare. We need more of this, so we’re adding it to our Top Ten list to shine a light on this approach, and perhaps to plant a seed for others to follow!

And, just for good measure, here are links to some other Top Ten lists you might be interested in:

Did we miss any critical items? Think we’re off the mark on any of the above? Let us know! Curious to compare this list with our previous Top Ten lists? Click on the following links to read our Top Ten womenabling events of 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Top Ten Womenabling Events of 2011

What events, trends and research reports top our list of the most important of the year? Look no further than Womenable’s most recent quarterly e-newsletter for our insights. Some of the items making it onto our Top Ten list include:

  • the centenary of International Women’s Day
  • the World Bank’s most recent World Development Report, focusing on gender and development, and
  • a welcome upwelling of conversations about growth – not only bemoaning the lack of women at the top (so what else is new?) but finally taking aim at some of the structural barriers impeding their progress.

CLICK HERE to read the full list. Happy holidays and best wishes for a womenabling 2012!

(And, if you liked that e-newsletter and would like to subscribe to our quarterly e-news digest, please CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

The Most Womenabling News of 2010

In our year-end e-newsletter, rather than summarizing the latest womenabling news and providing womenablers everywhere with insights to educate, enlighten and empower your efforts, we’re ending the year by compiling what we feel are the most interesting and relevant activities that have taken place in the field of women’s enterprise development in 2010. Repeated here, and in no particular order, are what we see as the ten most noteworthy trends and events of the year:

  1. The establishment of UN Women: It’s been talked about and touted for a number of years, and this year it finally happened: the merging of heretofore disparate UN activities for and about women into one “super agency” for women: the “UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women,”  otherwise known as UN Women. This entity will oversee efforts formerly under the purview of the UN’s Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Heading the new combined entity is former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. What do you need to know about the new agency and how you can engage with it? Read this.
  2. Expansion of women’s empowerment measurements: Where does women’s economic empowerment stand? Some of the most well-known measurements of women’s empowerment include the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports, the UN’s GDI and GEM measurements, and the OECD’s Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base. However, all of these include several other measures (including health, education and political participation) as well as economic empowerment and, with respect to the latter, focus on women as workers rather than business owners. There are the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s reports on women and entrepreneurship but, sadly, one has not been published since 2007. This year, though, saw the addition of two new kids on the block, and both of these indicators focus entirely on economic empowerment, and specifically on entrepreneurship. They are the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, and a new GenderCLIR methodology for BEE assessment from USAID/Booz Allen Hamilton.
  3. A picture’s worth a thousand words: The International Museum of Women launched a powerful online exhibition this year, Economica: Women and the Global Economy. One project within the exhibition is Picturing Power & Potential, a juried photo exhibit which proves the adage and is well worth a look. Bookmark and return to the site as they add to it in the coming year.
  4. Recognition of “The Female Factor” in some media circles, but …: The International Herald Tribune has written a number of compelling articles about women’s empowerment issues this year as a part of their series, “The Female Factor.” And Canada’s Globe and Mail launched a national conversation about Women in Power during Women’s History Month in Canada (October). Despite this nice coverage, however, a recent study, Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Report 2010, finds that women’s voices and stories – especially about economic issues – are still largely untold in the news media.
  5. Second interval review for MDGs: In 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, 189 world leaders planted an ambitious flag in the ground, agreeing on eight Millennium Development Goals aimed at eliminating world poverty by 2015. (Our favorite: #3, gender equity.) A “second interval” review of the progress being made on meeting those goals was held this year, including the publication of an MDG report and the convening of an MDG summit. The bottom line? Progress is indeed being made, but in many cases is uneven, affecting some populations and not others. Here’s a report card showing some of the details. While this review shows that much remains to be done to meet the 2015 deadline, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” (William Shakespeare)
  6. Progress stalled for WED in UK: Last year, in our year-end top trends E-newsletter, we noted the implosion of Prowess – the UK’s key advocacy organization for women’s economic empowerment. Well, things have gone from bad to worse in the UK for women’s enterprise development with the election of a   Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government. As  feared/expected, one of the new government’s first acts was declaring  that Business Link and Regional Development Agencies would be phased  out, in favor of Local Enterprise Partnerships. It remains to be seen how this will impact focused/tailored business support services such as the women’s business centre pilot programme, but our guess is that it won’t be positive.
  7. A new ED and Chair for NWBC: Another issue we followed with interest last year (though it did not make our top ten list) was stalled activity at the National Women’s Business Council in the wake of the 2008 US presidential election. Well, things are starting to move once again, with the hiring of a new executive director, Dana Lewis, and the appointment of a new chair, Donna James. Filling Council seats and revving up Council activities should commence in 2011. Women’s business advocates in the US are relieved.
  8. Quinquennial census of women-owned firms in the US: Say what you will about the growing hegemony of political and economic power worldwide, the United States still rocks when it comes to measuring the number and economic power of women-owned businesses. The  2007 quinquennial economic census of women-owned firms was published this year. Womenable summarizes the key trends for you in this blogpost.
  9. Progress in procurement: Doing business with the US government is getting easier for women-owned businesses. Finally, after a ten-year wait, a women-owned business procurement program is finally going to be launched by the SBA early next year. Not content to wait for this to happen, late in 2008 Women Impacting Public Policy, with the support of American Express OPEN, launched a “Give Me 5%” initiative (which refers to the gov’t-wide spending goal for women-owned firms) to educate women business owners on how to do business with the federal government. Where do things stand with respect to meeting that 5% goal? Federal spending with women-owned firms stands at 3.7% as of FY2009, up from 2.4% a decade earlier but still well short of the goal.
  10. Making market connections: There are two new initiatives poised to help women business owners globally make significant market connections with another important customer: large corporations. First is WEConnect International, an organization that was founded in 2009 but started to get its sea legs this year with the launch of WEConnect Europe and an event in London this October. WEConnect’s goal is to make it easier for large corporations to find women-owned business suppliers and for women-owned firms to learn how to do business with large corporations. And speaking of large corporations, one of them – Coca-Cola (ranked 404 on Fortune’s Global 500 largest companies) – announced a “reach for the stars” goal at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative conference. Coke’s “5 by 20” project aims to draw 5 million women into its Micro Distribution Center program in Africa and elsewhere by the year 2020.

Our Top Ten Womenabling Events of 2009

To close out the year, the Womenabler Blog would like to offer up what we see as the most interesting and relevant activities that have taken place in the field of women’s enterprise development. So here – in no particular order – are what we see as the ten most noteworthy trends and events of the year:

  1. The feminization of US entrepreneurship policy? With a new administration and a new Congress in 2010, for the first time ever, four of the five key political figures in small business in the United States are women: SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Senate Small Business Committee Chair and Ranking Member Mary Landrieu and Olympia Snowe, and House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velazquez. Might that be one reason why, for the first time in years, there’s been an increase in the budgets for the Women’s Business Center program and the National Women’s Business Council?
  2. The “male” recession. It’s been referred to as a “man-cession,” mostly because of the disproportionate impact it has had on manufacturing and other male-dominated sectors. (One could also say it was caused in large measure by testosterone-fueled behavior in the financial sector.) It remains to be seen, though, whether the recovery will lead to a return to “business as usual,” or if some female common sense will start to be taken more seriously. Right now, it doesn’t look good for the latter scenario.
  3. The growing case for investing in women’s economic empowerment internationally: We’re seeing more and more evidence coming to light showing a broader impact from and greater return on investment in women’s enterprise development compared to gender-blind program support. Right now, the focus is on developing economies and micro-enterprise. Up-market ROI seems more elusive to capture.
  4. Glossy recognition for advances women have made in the workplace in developed economies: The Shriver Report, “A Woman’s Nation” made a big splash this year by bringing some attention to the progress that women have made in the workforce in the US, largely in spite of lagging public policy. Ernst & Young has also published two glossy reports on women as “groundbreakers” and on the need for more women to “scale up” in business. While all are welcome additions to the knowledge base, women’s entrepreneurship is largely missing from these discussions.
  5. Organizational implosions: Two organizations that have helped to make great strides for women-owned businesses, the Center for Women’s Business Research in the US and Prowess in the UK, each imploded this year – with their founding directors (of 20 and 10 years, respectively) both leaving somewhat less than voluntarily. Here’s hoping that these two valuable womenabling organizations will emerge stronger from their current states of limbo.
  6. Skål to women in Scandinavia: Yet again, when the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report and the UN‘s Gender Empowerment Measure and Human Development Index were published, Nordic countries came out on top, showing women in the region to be closer to men than in any other part of the world in terms of health, education, labor participation and political empowerment. Still, entrepreneurship rates for women lag behind those of men there and elsewhere around the globe, according to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports.
  7. A new journal for women’s enterprise: 2009 marked the official launch of a new academic journal focused on women’s entrepreneurship issues, the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship.
  8. A growing focus on people over profits: We’ve noticed more talk of social enterprise this year – businesses that exist to reach goals that go beyond the financial. Some of the sources of that increased attention may be coming from: the Ashoka Fellows program, now in its 28th year; the Skoll Foundation and its World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship; and a new “Social Enterprise Mark” for products and services offered by social enterprises in the UK. May it continue to spread in the new year.
  9. One size does not fit all: 2009 saw the launch of new or expanded women’s business centers in Egypt, Pakistan, and Peru – and a promising effort in the UK to set standards for the essential elements of women-friendly and female-focused business support services (see wbcinternational.org). All efforts recognize that one size does indeed not fit all in terms of supporting enterprise development.
  10. Most noteworthy non-event: In this, the 10th year of the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor series of reports on entrepreneurial activity, where was the annual report on women’s enterprise? Missing in action! Let’s hope that 2010 will see the resumption of this important analytical effort.