Women entrepreneurs are not new to the American workforce. While the laws that protect women in the corporate world have been hard won and are still being fought for, modern-day business has significantly benefited from the activity of female entrepreneurs and business leaders.
You can trace the feminine presence in the workforce as far back as the Colonial Age, but female participation in American business swelled during the World War II era. As the men marched off to war, the mantle of breadwinner passed to the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives that were left behind. Because of this new situation, the “Cult of Domesticity” began to dissolve within the nation, freeing women from the traditional roles settled upon them.
Women began to discover their vast capacity for self-sustainability during this time, taking on more authoritative positions in the home and business. When the men returned post-WWII, and resumed their places as the primary moneymakers of the household, women began to start businesses from home. Initially, these entrepreneurial efforts were met with condescension, until women such as Estée Lauder, Brownie Wise and Ruth Handler began to rise to corporate prominence and financial success.
Now, in the 21st century, women-owned businesses make up more than 9 million firms. They employ over 7 million people and, as of 2015, have generated more than $1 trillion in sales. Despite this significant element of corporate influence in the country, modern-day women still face challenges that stifle and hinder their rise in the corporate world.
While no entrepreneur in the history of capitalism has had it easy, the challenges that businesswomen face tend to extend across a multitude of areas -- including economic, civil and even the ethical realm.
Click through the next three slides to learn about some examples of difficulties that women face as they walk the entrepreneurial road of the 21st century.