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Female Entrepreneurship

the state of female entrepreneurship in the united states


The State of Female Entrepreneurship in the US

Despite the great strides that women have made in entrepreneurship in recent years, there is still a rather vast gap between men and women founders. And with a plethora of industries to choose from, it can be difficult to see where you might thrive. But, with help from our job search engine, we can use job market data to see which roles might best complement your skills. 


According to a survey by Gusto, around half of the start-ups in the US during 2021 were formed by women, which is a huge increase from the 28% they reported in 2019. However, has this increase been sustained into 2022? 


We analyzed government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to ascertain how many females are starting businesses, what increase women have seen in business, and which states are the hotspots for female entrepreneurs. 

Number of Self-Employed Women in the US in the Past 10 Years

Number of New Self-Employed Women in the Last 10 Years: 203,000


There have been many fluctuations in the figures of self-employed women in the United States across the last ten years. In 2011, there were around 3.34 million self-employed women in the US, which made up a total of 5.1% of the total women’s workforce. Comparatively, there were 5.26 million self-employed males, during the same year, which made up 7.2% of the male workforce. In 2011 the overall breakdown looked like this; men made up 61.2% and women made up 38.8% of the total self-employed workforce. 


In 2016, there was a slight shift in these figures, as there had been every year between 2011-2020. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2016, there were around 3.38 million self-employed women in the US, making up 38.7% of the total self-employed workforce, a very small decrease from the 2011 figures. On the other hand, there were 5.36 million self-employed males, which made up 61.3% of the total self-employed workforce in 2016. 


More recently, in 2020, there was a bit more of a noticeable shift in the figures and distributions of female and male self-employed workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that in 2020, there were 3.54 million self-employed women, making up 41.6% of the self-employed workforce in the United States, a 3% increase from 2016. And for men, they had a 3% decrease, making up 58.4% of the US total self-employed workforce. 

Over the past 10 years, between 2011 and 2020, there has been a 203,000 increase in self-employed females in the United States. In fact, from 2018 to 2020, there has been a steady increase in female self-employment figures, with the opposite being the case for men. 


Female Business Growth in the US Over the Last 10 Years


10-Year Difference of Self-Employed Women: 6.08%

In the last ten years, between 2011 and 2020, the United States has seen a mixture of decline and growth in self-employed female workers. The biggest increase in the last ten years was in 2017 when the number of self-employed females grew by 1.89% from the year prior. 


This 2017 growth would signify the coming years of prosperity for self-employed women. A much-needed change from the years prior, as 2014 to 2016 saw consecutive decreases in self-employed women. 

After a brief decline in 2018, the next two years following that would be much improved. 2019 and 2020, saw growths of 0.79% and 1.5%, respectively, in women in the self-employment workforce. And overall, the ten-year difference in self-employed women stands at 6.08% as an increase, which may well indicate progress, even if gradual.

America’s Female Founder Hotspots

  1. Maine

Male Founders: 167 | Female Founders: 60 | Total Founders: 227 | 

Percentage of Female Founders: 26.43%

Maine is a state in the New England region of the US, known for its maritime history and nature areas, such as Acadia National Park. As of November 2022, there are 227 company founders in the state of Maine, with 26.43% of those being female, the highest of any state in the US. 

  1. Montana

Male Founders: 156 | Female Founders: 46 | Total Founders: 202 | 

Percentage of Female Founders: 22.77%

Montana is a western state, home to a portion of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, as well as the Glacier National Park. As per Crunchbase, as of November 2022, there were 202 company founders in the state, with 46 of those being female. While that sounds like a meagre number, it does make up almost a quarter of the total, at 22.77%. 

  1. West Virginia

Male Founders: 38 | Female Founders: 11 | Total Founders: 49 | 

Percentage of Female Founders: 22.45%

West Virginia, located in the east of the United States, amongst the tree-covered Appalachian Mountains, comes out as the third hot spot for female founders. As of 2022, there are just 49 company founders in the state. Female founders make up 22.45% of that number. 

  1. New Mexico

Male Founders: 183 | Female Founders: 52 | Total Founders: 235 | 

Percentage of Female Founders: 22.13%

New Mexico is a southern state that shares its border with Texas, sharing a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. New Mexico recorded 235 company founders, as of 2022. Of those founders, 22.13% of those were females, making it one of the best states for female entrepreneurship. 

  1. Vermont

Male Founders: 127 | Female Founders: 35 | Total Founders: 162 | 

Percentage of Female Founders: 21.60%

Another state in New England, we have Vermont, which is known for its natural forested landscape. According to Crunchbase, there were 162 company founders as of 2022. Of those founders, 127 were male and 35 female, the latter making up a total of 21.6% of the total. 


To get the number of self-employed individuals in the United States, we used Table 32 of the Bureau of Labor Statistics women in the labor force databook. We focused on the last ten years of available data, from 2011-2020 in this case. We calculated the increase in self-employed females, to get an idea of the number of new female businesses founded by women. We then were able to calculate the year-on-year growth of females in self-employment, and then calculate the overall 10-year increase. 

Next, we used Crunchbase, filtering by gender, location, and job title – in this case, we used “Founder” for the job title. We then filtered to each state to get the total number of founders, then filtered by male and female for each state. Finally, we calculated the number of female founders as a percentage of the total number to rank each state. These figures were taken from Crunchbase on November 9th, 2022. 

Team Lensa
Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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