This week, Inc. Magazine ranked the U.S. cities with the most women-led companies, and the Windy City made the list.
The latest ranking placed Chicago seventh among U.S. cities in terms of the number of women-owned private businesses.
The article referenced two particular Chicago companies: beverage startup SOCIAL Sparkling Wine, founded by Leah Caplanis, and accessible credit company Braviant Holdings, founded by Stephanie Klein.
The ranking was based on the number of women-led companies in each city on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, which compiles the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S.
Washington, D.C., came in first on the list, with 72 Inc. 5000 companies, compared to Chicago’s 21. Three Texas cities made the list, while startup hubs such as Boston, Seattle and Denver did not.
A supportive ecosystem is beneficial for women CEOs, as gender bias continues to affect business outcomes. Research shows that women in professional settings must outperform male counterparts in order to receive equal treatment. A 2014 Harvard Business School study found that investors prefer entrepreneurial pitches made by men over those made by women, even when the contents are the same. As such, only 2.7 percent of venture capital currently goes to women founders.
Despite these challenges, female founders are working to build stronger industry networks and more equitable investment practices.