Ladies First

Just The Facts

  • An estimated 42 percent of the nation's nearly 8 million women-owned businesses sell products or services to government agencies or corporations. About 61 percent of men-owned firms consider the government a client.
  • Almost half of men-owned firms sell products or services to large corporations, compared to 30 percent of women-owned firms.
  • Federal government set-aside programs have resulted in 23 percent of firms owned by women of color selling to the federal government, compared to 13 percent among firms owned by white women.
  • In 1994, the federal government implemented a rule requiring all agencies to give up to 5 percent of prime contracts to women-owned businesses.
  • In 1999, women got less than 2 percent of federal prime contracts.
  • Just 22 percent of women-owned businesses have subcontracted under a larger contract to a government agency or large corporation, compared to 31 percent of men-owned firms.

Contact Sources

Pacific Research Institute,,

Women's Business Enterprise National Council, (202) 872-5515,

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ladies First.

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