OWL is a national, grassroots organization that focuses on improving the economic security and quality of life for women 40+.

OWL believes in empowering women through education and advocacy. From our founding, we have been committed to keeping the following issues at the forefront of state and national policy agendas:

Economic Security
Quality of Life

Our Women Mean Business

Encore Careers After 40


OWL recognizes the growing number of skilled and talented women over 40 who are starting their own business.  Women-owned businesses, which now number over 9 million, have become a force in the nation’s economy.  Our initiative, “Our Women Mean Business!” is designed to encourage and support these entrepreneurs by:
•  increasing their access to venture capital to start or expand their business;
•  highlighting best practices and identifying business challenges and solutions;
•  bringing their successes and concerns to Executive and legislative leadership and the media
•  compiling resources for mentoring and training

Women-owned businesses are growing

•  Women are starting over 1,200 new businesses per day—double the rate from three years ago
•  There are over 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.
•  One-third of all U.S. firms have women as majority owners
•  Women-owned businesses generate nearly $1.5 trillion in revenues and employ 7.9 million people

Women-owned businesses have steadily increased their influence on the U.S. economy. Since 1997, women-owned firms have:
•  increased in number by 68%
•  grown revenues by 72%
•  added 11% more jobs
        (American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report)

Entrepreneurship is not just for young people

•  Over the last decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America is among the 55-64 age group.
•  People over 55 are almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between ages 20-34
•  In 2013, about 20 percent of all new businesses were started by entrepreneurs aged 50-59 years, and 15 percent were age 60 and over  
                                                                    (Kauffman Foundation)

What’s driving the growth in women-owned business?

Women pursue entrepreneurship for a variety of reasons.  Some want more control of their time and work schedule.  Others feel held back in their current job by a glass ceiling.  Older women may decide to start their own business due to obstacles in finding or keeping a traditional job or because they cannot afford to retire:

•  Despite laws against age discrimination, older people have a much harder time finding work
•  Older workers are more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing
•  Women are more likely than men to have gaps in employment due to family responsibilities, which result in lower Social Security payments and make it more difficult for them to re-enter the workforce
•  Women are less likely than men to have employer pensions

Women-owned businesses have good track records

•  Companies with at least one female senior executive are more likely to succeed than companies with only men in charge;
•  Among venture-backed startups with five or more female executives, 61 percent were successful, compared with a 50 percent failure rate overall (2012 Dow Jones report)
•  Venture capital firms that invest in women-owned/led businesses performed better overall (SBA Report 4/2013)

But they still face obstacles

Women-led businesses are one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurial firms, yet few of these firms receive private equity funding.
Gender bias is a major obstacle:

•  Out of 136 countries measured by gender equality, the U.S. was ranked 23rd overall (2013 Global Gender Gap Index)

•  A recent study showed that men—especially attractive ones—have a much easier time than women in securing funds from venture capitalists (Harvard Business School)

•  Startups with at least one woman on their founding team are 18 percent less likely to attract equity investors than their all-male counterparts Yet they are 20 percent more likely to have generated revenue (Emory University 2013)

•  Only 13 percent of all venture capital deals in the U.S. went to women in 2013. That means 87 percent of deals are being given to all-male business teams.(PitchBook)

•  Women entrepreneurs over 40 face a double hurdle: “Most banks aren’t interested in financing a senior business start-up because it’s too small.  And age bias can be a big factor.” (Elizabeth Isele,

Solutions for women entrepreneurs

OWL will take a nonpartisan, collaborative, and solution-oriented approach in advocating for 40+ women who want to start or expand a business by:

•  working with leading women entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to develop an education campaign, targeting the venture capital community and women seeking investment capital, on the irrationality of gender bias and its economic cost
•  developing an Internet site that provides information on seeking funding and resources for mentoring and training
•  bringing their successes and challenges to Executive and Congressional leadership and the media
•  highlighting regional best practices and identifying challenges and solutions to business ownership

Coalitions and Outreach

OWL knows that collaborations are critical to success. We work with a range of organizations, including:

•    Center for Non Profit Advancement
•    Compassion & Choices Campaign to End Unwanted Medical Treatment
•    Independent Sector
•    Leadership Council of Aging Organizations
•    Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD)
•    National Academy of Social Insurance
•    National Alliance of Caregiving
•    National Bone Health Alliance
•    National Committee on Pay Equity
•    National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
•    National Coalition on Mental Health & Aging
•    National Council of Women’s Organizations Older Women’s Economic Security Task
•    National Voter’s Registration Day
•    National Women’s History Museum
•    National Women’s Law Center Health Task   Force
•    No Labels
•    Stop Obesity Alliance
•    Strengthen Social Security Coalition

View a more extensive list of our collaborators here.

OWL in Action

OWL recognizes that there is strength in numbers. We are proud to work closely with other national organizations to promote shared policy interests. Read more about our advocacy.