“[Women] are starting lots and lots of companies,” said Huston. “But what's not happening is the growth of their companies.”
Even as the number and scope of businesses owned by women have grown, their influence in the larger economy has not kept pace. These companies remain relatively small, typically with only a few employees and pulling in less than $1 million in annual revenue.
That is especially true in Pittsburgh, which American Express ranked near the bottom for cities in which women-owned firms have the greatest “economic clout,” measured by the growth in number, revenue and employment of female-owned businesses.
Among the 25 most populous cities, Pittsburgh ranked 24th (41.3 percent) in the growth of number of female-owned firms and 23rd (18.4 percent) in revenue between 1997 and 2014, according to American Express.
One possible explanation for Pittsburgh lagging behind is that some of the major industries — high-tech, professional and business services, manufacturing — tend to be male dominated, said Julie Weeks, the report's author.
Huston doesn't believe that. She sees women entering a variety of industries, and where they need help most is in connecting with mentors and peer networks who can help them learn how to grow.
E-Magnify + PowerLink provide a variety of services to help women start and grow businesses.“That's what we need to do,” she said. “It's not enough to just start them.”