The 12th annual Massachusetts Conference for Women has kicked off last night and today at the Boston Convention Center. This conference brings front and center the underlying systemic disparities around opportunities, support structures, and tools available to help girls and women to achieve economic empowerment, success, and mobility. The data on the outcomes of these kinds of collective efforts to support women’s business initiatives (despite public, private, and non-profit sector efforts), is still far from promising, and more clearly needs to be done:
Nearly 10 million businesses in the United States are majority-owned by women, 36 percent of all firms. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, the proportion of entrepreneurs who are women actually has dropped in recent years, according to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. In 1997, women started nearly 44 percent of new businesses, and by 2014 that level had slipped below 37 percent.
At this Boston conference are many strong role models with invaluable experience, context, and coaching for women to address: #opportunity #access #inclusion #inequality and more. Let’s hope that the organizers put these sessions up so that more than just the 11,000 passionate individuals here can have access to them. Among the speakers who stand out: Sarah Blakely, the youngest female self-made billionaire and founder of SPANX who speaks quite powerfully about resilience, failure, the power of failure as a character builder and foundational learning tool. (Read 10 Lessons I Learned from Sara Blakely That You Won't Hear in Business School for additional insights into the resiliency of this motivated and accomplished female entrepreneur.)