Gender Gap

Behind Women’s Shrinking Share of Federal Contracts


Federal contracts to small businesses owned by women dropped by 5.5 percent in the year ended Sept. 30, 2012.

David Evans/Bloomberg

Federal contracts to small businesses owned by women dropped by 5.5 percent in the year ended Sept. 30, 2012.

Women-owned businesses competing for federal contracts are getting a smaller piece of a shrinking pie. That’s according to an analysis of government contracting data today by Bloomberg’s Danielle Ivory that shows U.S. contracts to small businesses owned by women dropped for the second year in a row. They’re falling faster than contracts to businesses owned by men.

Federal agencies aim to direct some of their spending to small businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans to help entrepreneurs from disadvantaged groups. The declines for women business owners are unlikely to turn around while the government is reducing spending, Ivory reports:

It may get worse for women, as they face difficulty winning a greater share of business in an era of federal spending cuts, said Robert Burton, acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under George W. Bush.

“I don’t think you’re going to see any of these figures rise,” Burton, now a partner at the law firm Venable LLP in Washington, said in a phone interview. “Historically, the government has never put a strong emphasis on women-owned small businesses.”

Read Ivory’s full story.

John_tozzi
Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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