Fighting for a Voice and Winning a Place in the U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (September 3, 2020) – This August, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) celebrated the Women’s Suffrage Centennial and Women’s Equality Day.  

After over 70 years of persistence and strategic activism, women found a voice in our political process and opened the gates to pursuing their entrepreneurial destiny. Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the states and federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. Fast forward 100 years, and women comprise almost 24% of the 116th Congress—not only casting ballots for themselves but voting in representation of hundreds of thousands of citizens on our nation’s most pressing issues, including those shaping the business climate.

As women’s role in American society expanded beyond the home front, through the political process, and into the realm of enterprise, another roadblock emerged to make their presence known. The Economic Census failed to include them in its data products. The Survey of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (SMOBE) was introduced as a special project in 1969 and eventually became a part of the Economic Census in 1972. Still five years later in 1977, the Survey of Women-Owned Business Enterprises (SWOBE) was initiated to provide crucial demographic information on female entrepreneurs. SMOBE and SWOBE were eventually combined to create the Survey of Business Owners (SBO).

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