Women Gaining Ground in Business, Education

Women Gaining Ground in Business, Education

  • July 29th, 2019

Women Gaining Ground in Business, Education

Businesses owned by women now make up 34 percent of all Alabama firms, generating more than $7.6 billion in sales and $1 billion in payroll for the state.

That’s the word this week from the Alabama State Data Center (ASDC), as Women’s History Month draws to a close. Housed in The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, the Center works in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau and serves as part of Alabama’s central reservoir for economic and demographic data, the Center for Business and Economic Research.

“In addition, Alabama’s women-owned business employed 24 percent of all employees in the state, or 79,700 people, in 1992,” said Annette Watters, Center manager and chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based national State Data Center. Watters explained that the ’92 numbers are the latest available figures in these areas.

On the national front, businesses owned by women comprise 33 percent of all domestic firms and 40 percent of all retail and service firms, Watters said. These businesses generated $1.6 trillion in revenues and employed 13.2 million people in 1992.

“Working women are also commanding higher salaries,” Watters noted. “The female-to-male earnings ratio reached a new high in 1996, with a 2.4 percent increase in real median earnings to $23,710.

“That increase brings women to about 74 percent of the median for men, $32,144.”

Women are also working their way into traditionally male-dominated fields. Over a 13-year period, from 1983 to 1996, the proportion of women lawyers increased from 15 to 30 percent, female physicians from 16 to 26 percent, and female economists from 38 to 54 percent.

“Record numbers of mothers are taking to the work force,” continued the Center manager. “In 1996, 70 percent of married women with children worked, compared to only 40 percent in 1970. Of the 3.7 million women who gave birth in 1994, 55 percent were in the labor force the following year.”

On the higher education front, as of 1994 women constituted 55 percent of people awarded bachelor’s degrees, 55 percent of those receiving master’s degrees and 39 percent of doctoral graduates. That indicates an increase from comparable 1971 statistics of 43, 40 and 14 percent, respectively.

“Women pursuing higher education also outnumber men at the state level,” Watters said. “Of students enrolled in public colleges and universities in the state, women make up 55.8 percent of undergraduate students and 59.1 percent of graduate students.

“Overall, women comprise nearly 56 percent of Alabama’s college students,” she said. “And, younger women are more likely than their predecessors or their male counterparts to be educated. Of the overall population, 26 percent of men have bachelor’s degrees, compared to only 21 percent of women.

“However, among 25- to 29-year-olds, 28 percent of women hold bachelor’s degrees, compared to 26 percent of men.”

Women currently outnumber men in Alabama 2.2 million to 2.1 million; in the overall U.S. population, as of 1997 there were 137.2 million women and 131.6 million men. There margins are larger for older Americans: 20.1 million to 14.1 million at ages 65 and over; 2.8 million to 1.1 million at ages 85 and over; and 50,000 to 11,000 among centenarians.

As Alabamians age, Watters said, the margins grow larger: 337,000 women to 220,000 men at ages 65 and over; and 43,780 women to 16,500 men at ages 85 and over.

“Those margins can be accounted for by looking at life expectancy by gender,” she explained. “In 1995, life expectancy for women was 79, compared to 73 years for mean. Projections for 2010 show life expectancy will be 81 years for women and 74 years for men.”