Survey puts Miami near top among women business startups
By Mindy Hagen
Despite a recent survey showing that 25% of women entering the workforce choose the same jobs their mothers and grandmothers did, statistics list Miami as one of the leading US cities in providing opportunities to women starting their own companies.
The survey, done by the Greater Miami chapter of the National Association of Female Executives, clusters 25% of women entering the workforce in six main professions: teaching, cashier, retail sales, office managers, secretary and nursing.
Correlating state studies listed by the organization show that these sectors are expected to gain the most jobs by 2008. Salaries in the Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale markets were higher than the state average in most of these categories, the numbers show.
Brenda Nestor, founder and president of the Greater Miami chapter, said the trend of women migrating toward traditional jobs won't be reversed quickly.
"No great strides will be taken when people continue to accept things the way they are," said Ms. Nestor, president of Brenda Nestor & Associates, a real estate firm. "I'm a believer that things take a long time. Most women feel like they have to give up their families for their careers, but it doesn't have to be that way."
Association members did the survey during May and June, Ms. Nestor said, in an effort to gain statistics about South Florida's environment for women. The group polled about 350 companies made up of its own membership plus about 250 representative firms from manufacturing, service, hospitality, retail, law and medical sectors.
"People want to know about business opportunities in South Florida because they fantasize about moving here and living the happy life," she said. "The survey can help people decide where to move for economic reasons."
Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, former president of Miami's chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, said the survey's results don't reflect the actual strides women have made.
Citing statistics from the National Foundation of Women Business Owners, a sister organization, Ms. Staton-Reinstein said Miami ranked 6th among top metropolitan areas in growth of women-owned businesses from 1992-99.
In the Greater Miami area, there are 91,900 women-owned companies employing 397,000 people and generating $51 billion in sales, according to the group.
The number of businesses owned by women has increased by 55% since 1992 in the city.
"The growth in Miami has been phenomenal," said Ms. Staton-Reinstein, president of Advantage Leadership, a management-consulting firm. "As more choices for women open up, people will be more free to choose the traditional or non-traditional route in what type of job to hold. And as the years pass by, the notion of what is traditional is changing rapidly."
In Florida from 1987-96, she said, the biggest changes in the types of businesses women owned occurred in the non-traditional sector. The number of agriculture and mining firms owned by women increased by 149%, women-owned construction companies grew 190%, women-owned manufacturing firms 143% and companies involved with transportation or public utilities in the hands of women increased 171%.
Ms. Staton-Reinstein said the growth in Miami could be attributed to minority women opening businesses.
"Our diverse population and ties to Latin America mean Miami is the perfect place to open a company to do business with that area," she said.
Although a glass ceiling separating women from men is still there, Ms. Staton-Reinstein said, women are looking to work around such barriers.
"Women in corporations hitting up against the glass ceiling and deciding they don't need the hassle anymore are spurring the growth of women-owned businesses," she said. "There is no doubt the glass ceiling is still there. But women realize they have the skills to begin their own business and be successful at it."
Ms. Nestor said her organization's survey shows there can be an open dialogue about the kinds of jobs women are choosing, which is a positive step.
"At least now we can talk about this subject," Ms. Nestor said. "The subject matter isn't taboo any longer."