American Business Women’s Day is an American holiday, nationally recognized on 22 September, 1949. The day also marked the founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) in downtown Kansas at a coffee shop the very year Simone de Beauvoir’s seminal feminist work, The Second Sex was published.
Back then, the idea of a woman working for herself, running a business in a man’s world, and coming home to lean back and kick up her feet by the fire before tending to the needs of others in her home? Unthinkable.
Introducing themselves, ABWA write: “During the height of WWII, women were not only encouraged to enter the workforce, they were deluged with propaganda to join the workforce because it was their patriotic duty. When the war was over, many women lost their jobs, and were reminded that their first responsibility was to their home and their family.”
Today, women work for various reasons: because they must. For their families, for themselves, because they are powerful movers and shakers on their way to change the world the way women have always done.
Today, things are a bit different. According to The U.S. Census Bureau estimates in 2020, 1.1 million employer firms were owned by women and 1 million were minority-owned. As per the latest available US census data, in 2017, the sector with the most women-owned businesses were in the health care and social assistance industry, followed by professional, scientific and technical services and in the retail trade industry.
While we must celebrate the gains we make, we must also take stock of the setbacks.
The ripple of hundreds of years of oppression still continues in minds and also the structures that frame careers and businesses today.
To begin with, there is a huge gap in payrolls, skills and presence in certain industries (Looking at you, STEM.) all over the world. As long as women don’t have sufficient systemic support for childcare, struggle with re-entering the workforce after career gaps, and are passed over for promotions (for no good reason, most of the time); as long as their safety from sexual harassment is not ensured, as long as the patriarchy needs dismantling, even the strongest women among us will struggle more than we have to.
SEEMA started in the spirit of empowering South Asian women, who rank among the American women making American business a more diverse place. As of 2019, women of color (WOC) account for 50% of all women-owned businesses and generate $422.5 billion in revenue (23% of total women-owned businesses’ revenue). We love celebrating the women who are changing the world. So in the spirit of American Business Women’s Day, let us reacquaint you with some of the women we celebrate. Click on their names below to read more about them.
Deepti Sharma, Food to Eat
Deepti Sharma, whose family runs beloved North Indian restaurant Amma, started FoodtoEat in 2011 to connect immigrant, women, and minority-owned food vendors with opportunities for growth, especially in the catering industry. @FoodtoEat helps businesses feed employees great food while building stronger and more diverse work cultures.
Anita Goel, Nanobiosym
Anita Goel was our Woman of the Year in 2019. Holding Ivy League doctorates in physics and medicine, she is dizzyingly intelligent and determined to disrupt nanotech. She is the founder, chairman and CEO of Nanobiosym, which works at the intersection of physics, nanotechnology, and biomedicine to focus on solutions for global health, energy and the environment.
Brides from all over the country flock to Fort Worth to get their trousseaus custom-designed. There, in a 3,200 square-foot design studio, Ruby Bhandari works away to dress South Asian America. She is the founder of Texas-based fashion line Silk Threads. A talent honed young with sharp business sense to go with, Bhandari is an inspiration for determined young women who wish to enter the fashion world.