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National Women's Month

History of Women in Business

All throughout lots of the 18th and 19th centuries, women went into business after inheriting them from their husbands. Societal norms then started to shift throughout the 20th century where women took on more active roles in entrepreneurial endeavors.

In 1973, Katharine Graham was the only female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The only one. Well-educated but with zero business training and precious little journalism experience, she became publisher of the Washington Post in 1963. Over the next three decades, she faced down politicians, personal threats, and striking printers to lead the family-owned paper through some of its toughest times. Along the way, she grew the Post Co. into a billion-dollar business.

In 1988 a study was commissioned to assess the state of women in business. The findings of the study conducted are captured in a report titled: “New economic realities: the rise of women entrepreneurs.” The report led to the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 providing women equitable access to capital. The Act led to the creation of the Women’s Business Centers and the National Women’s Business Council, but more importantly, eliminated discriminatory lending practices such as the elimination of state laws requiring a woman to have a male relative co-sign a business loan.

Women in Business Today

Thirty-one percent of all small business or franchise owners are women, according to the Small Business Trends survey results. They are also highly educated: the largest share at 34 percent holds a Bachelor’s degree, while 27 percent have a Master’s and eight percent a Doctorate. 11 percent of respondents have an Associate’s degree and 20 percent a high school diploma or GED.

The reasons these women became business owners are varied, but the plurality of 29 percent said they were ready to be their own boss! The next most common response at 20 percent was a desire to pursue their passion, followed by dissatisfaction with corporate America and the presentation of an opportunity, each with 13 percent.

The top four industries women own businesses in our health, beauty, and fitness services; food and restaurant; retail; and business services. The amount each spent to launch their business differs, though over half spent less than $50,000. Seventeen percent spent between $50,000 and $100,000 and nine percent spent up to $175,000. The remaining 22 percent spent between $175,000 and over $1 million, though only two percent fell into the $1 million+ rank.

The number of people employed by women-owned businesses is increasing: last year’s Small Business Trends survey saw 32 percent of owners were the only employee, and the two to five range has also increased year-over-year by 23 percent. Not only that, but 58 percent of women-owned businesses were profitable. Profitability is down 18 percent from the prior year, though this is no surprise given the upheaval of 2020.

Women in PSE

We first started our PSE chapter at the University of Northern Iowa in 1996. PSE’s purpose used to be, “to create a collegiate brotherhood of men who are interested in the advancement of marketing, sales management, and selling as a career and a profession.” Today Pi Sigma Epsilon is now the only national co-ed professional fraternity in the fields of sales, marketing, and management.

Here at Epsilon Theta out chapter is very co-ed! We have the wonderful Abigail Bennethum as our current VP of Public Relations! We even had the amazing Hannah Haisman as our last chapter President! We have 6 current women directors working hard to help our chapter and E-Board! Shoutout to all the women of PSE!

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