Pittsburgh Lags In Gender Equity, Resources For Businesswomen

By Chris Fleisher
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Financial website Wallet­Hub recently ranked Pitts­burgh 96th out of 100 metro areas in promoting women-owned businesses. Some experts dispute WalletHub’s assessment of women entrepreneurship in the city saying the ranking offers a crude measure of Pittsburgh’s progress and overlooks local programs aimed at helping women. But the report raises questions about the progressiveness of Pittsburgh’s business community when the city is promoting itself as a model for economic reinven­tion.

Pittsburgh

Two decades after she left Pittsburgh, Denise DeSimone returned to her native city as a triumphant entrepreneur.

She had successfully launched several tech-oriented companies in the South, finding receptive corporate clients in Memphis and access to resources she needed to grow.

And so, when she started a marketing agency called C-Leveled in Shadyside in 2009, she was surprised at how much resistance she encountered.

“For a while, I tried to walk into people’s offices and say, ‘Give me the worst project you’ve got. I’ll go with that one,’ ” DeSimone said. “The one nobody wants.”

As it turned out, she was the one nobody wanted. At least, that’s how it seemed.

Pittsburgh is a different city from the place Denise DeSimone left 30 years ago, with an economy that has diversified beyond its manufacturing roots. And yet, when it comes to supporting women business owners, the city has plenty of work to do.

Financial website Wallet­Hub recently ranked Pitts­burgh 96th out of 100 metro areas in promoting women-owned businesses.

Some experts dispute WalletHub’s assessment, saying it offers a crude measure of Pittsburgh’s progress and overlooks local programs aimed at helping women. But the report raises questions about the progressiveness of Pittsburgh’s business community when the city is promoting itself as a model for economic reinven­tion.

Pittsburgh lags other metro areas in growth of women-owned firms, in number and by revenue. The number of firms since 2002 has grown 19.4 percent to 52,900 since 2002, and sales are up 18.5 percent to $9.5 billion, growth that ranks the city near the bottom of 25 metro areas tracked in the annual American Express OPEN report on the state of women-owned businesses. The number of firms overall in the United States was up 45 percent over that period, and sales grew 56 percent.

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