2016 is a big year for American women. Last month, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to receive a major party nomination for president in the United States.
But does her nomination mean all restrictions on woman and their careers are gone?
The term “glass ceiling” is often used to describe an unseen barrier that stops women and minorities from moving up in their careers.
American small business owners said in an opinion survey that the glass ceiling remains in place, even with Hillary Clinton running for president.
Bank of America contacted 1,001 business owners from across the country for their opinion on the issue. Seventy-seven percent of the women, and 56 percent of the men said they believe the barrier still exists for some women and members of minority groups.
Aquila Leon-Soon is chief executive officer of Advance Talent Solutions, a company that helps non-profit groups and government with finding workers. She told VOA the glass ceiling is very real.
"I think that glass ceiling does exist and I would like for people to even think more about how it impacts women entrepreneurs.”
Entrepreneurs launch businesses and are willing to risk money to make money.
The Bank of America survey found that 54 percent of women small business owners did not feel affected by the glass ceiling. But 46 percent said they had felt limited by it at some time in their careers.
Sharon Miller is head of small business at Bank of America. She told VOA the survey shows that more women small business owners are hopeful about their companies making money than men. And more women than men plan to grow their business over the next five years.
Miller said that "from 2015 to 2016, the number of men small-business owners expressing optimism about revenue and growth declined significantly, more than 15 percentage points.”
Most American companies are small businesses -- ones with less than 500 employees. The U.S. Small Business Administration says small businesses make up more than 99 percent of American companies.
Miller says the survey found that women want to operate their own businesses.
“When we asked why did you become an entrepreneur, why did you open your own small business, most of the women answered because I want to be my own boss, because I want to take control of my own destiny.”
She added they found that women were not opening businesses because they were unhappy in their old job.
“Those are running towards something, not away. So it wasn’t because I was unhappy in my previous role or didn’t like it, it’s that I wanted to build something for myself.”
A big part of getting a business started is finding the capital, or money, to finance it.
Some people may have to use credit cards, or borrow money from family or friends, or get traditional loans for their businesses. The survey found that more than one in four women still feel they do not have the same access to capital as men.
Leon-Soon knows about that. She says, the first time she went to a bank to get a loan to pay her employees, she was rejected. Now that her company is established, she does not have trouble getting money.
But she says people are still surprised to find women in top leadership.
“Often I am asked, and people are surprised, they’re like, well, can I talk to your boss? And I say, I am the boss. They’re like REALLY?!”
She says people are also surprised when they find out a successful company is led by a woman.
“And that shows that as a nation we have a lot more that we need to do to change the way people view entrepreneurs, and how successful women can be.”
And that most likely means there is a lot more work to be done to make that glass ceiling disappear.
I’m Anne Ball.
Bernard Shusman reported this story for VOANews.com. Anne Ball wrote it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
glass ceiling - n. an unfair system or attitudes that prevents some people from getting the most powerful jobs
survey – n. questions asked to gather data on a group
optimism – n. a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future
decline - v. something that goes down in numbers
boss – n. the person in charge of employees
destiny – n. what will happen in the future