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Women Business Owners See Glass Ceiling Half Cracked

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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Women small business owners agree that a glass ceiling exists, but not necessarily that it limits their opportunities.

A survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country conducted by Bank of America focused on the aspirations and pain points of women business owners. It found that just over half of male (56 percent) and most female (77 percent) small business owners believe a glass ceiling exists for some women and minorities. But only 46 percent of women believe the ceiling has limited them during their career.

In fact, most women surveyed believe they have the same access as their male counterparts to clients (79 percent), outside resources and new business (75 percent), and capital (72 percent). Most women also believe they face the same, not worse, challenges that men do in hiring and managing staff.

One challenge women seem to be slightly less dogged by than men? Pessimism. Women business owners expressed more optimism than their male counterparts about annual revenue and growth expectations. While 54 percent of women entrepreneurs expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, less than half (48 percent) of men do.

Women are also more likely to see growth in the long term and to maintain that view. Sixty percent of women but only 52 percent of men told Bank of America that they expect to grow their business over the next five years. Meanwhile, the number of men who expect revenue to increase over the next 12 months has declined by 18 percentage points, and the number planning to grow their business over the next five years fell by 16 percentage points since spring 2015. Women’s revenue expectations and growth plans remained steady year over year.

Sharon Miller, managing director, head of Small Business, Bank of America, said women “are demonstrating much greater levels of optimism than their male counterparts.”

The survey was conducted among a national sample of 1,000 small business owners in the U.S. with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees.

Follow Adrienne Jane Burke at @adajane
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