The number of women starting businesses in the USA is growing. In fact, the States is one of the best places in the world for female entrepreneurship and business ownership.

But how is this success spread out across the states and metropolitan areas? Where are the best locations for women to set up a new venture, and which part of the USA could use a big injection of girl power?

Researchers from the business lending firm OnDeck decided to find out. They analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine the proportion of female-owned businesses in every major US city and metropolitan area.

Let’s see what they found out.

Metro areas with the highest percentage of female-owned businesses

There’s some real girl-boss energy in the St. Louis metro area. Just under one in four businesses (24.84%) in St. Louis was started by a female entrepreneur. That’s the highest proportion of female-owned companies in any U.S. metro area.

The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area comes in at an extremely close second, with 24.80% of all businesses in the metropolitan area being female-founded.

Other areas with a high proportion of female-owned businesses include Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, San Diego, Tucson, and Austin-Round Rock. At least one in four firms in all of these metro areas was started by a woman.

Girl Power in Alaska

Turning to the U.S. states, OnDeck’s researchers found that Alaska is leading the way in female business ownership and entrepreneurship.

According to the OnDeck study, The Last Frontier State has more women-owned businesses than any other U.S. state; 24.7% of Alaskan businesses have female bosses calling the shots.

The lowest percentage of female business owners in U.S. metro areas

Wichita is a metro area with one of the smallest percentages of female-owned businesses (15.72%).

That’s bad but not as bad as the Salt Lake City metro area. With just 14.81% of businesses female-owned, it’s the worst metro area in the USA for female business empowerment.

But that’s changing. A report shared by The Salt Lake City Tribune found that the number of female-owned businesses has been increasing year over year since 2017.

The rising number of female entrepreneurs in Salt Lake City includes Anna Davies, who turned her love of baking into her own bean-to-bar chocolate store, Ritual Chocolate.

“I thought I could never be a business owner; you just see other people doing that,” said Anna in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. “But then when you start, and you do it, you realize everyone can do it. And everyone should do it, especially women.”

More work needed

Utah makes an appearance near the bottom of the table for states with the lowest percentage of female-owned businesses. It’s propped up by three other states where female entrepreneurship needs a big boost. They are Nebraska (15.79%), South Dakota (15.64%), and West Virginia (15.08%).

There’s still a long way to go before we reach true gender parity in business ownership and entrepreneurial opportunities in the USA. However, things are moving in the right direction, And they will continue to do so, as long as we keep promoting the right messages. 

So we’ll leave the last words to one of the world’s most successful girl bosses, Sheryl Sandberg, the former Chief Operating Officer of Meta.

She says, “I want every little girl who’s been told she’s bossy to be told again she has leadership skills.”

Amen to that.