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June 2008

Women, an Economic Force

Patti DeNucci, owner of DeNucci & Co.

Texas Womanpower

Based on their gross receipts in 2007, Texas’ top women-owned businesses are:

  1. TransPerfect Translations – Austin, Dallas, Houston
  2. PrimeSource Food Service Equipment, Inc. – Dallas
  3. Alamo Travel Group – San Antonio
  4. Burnett Staffing Specialists – Houston
  5. Icon Information Consultants – Houston


Their numbers continue to grow.

by Tracey Lamphere

As Texas’ population grows, so does the number of women in its work force. And Texas ranks second in the nation for women-owned businesses.

Women at Work

As of 2006, there were about 5.2 million women in Texas’ work force, up from 4.5 million in 2000.

The increase in women working outside the home has been shaped by, and in turn has shaped, our economy in a variety of ways, says Linda Krefting, an associate professor at the Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business.

“For many women, working outside the home has always been – and probably always will be – an economic necessity,” says Krefting.

She’s the Boss

“Texas women have made great strides in key decision-making roles in the business community and are directing change across the board – in the workplace and in the world,” says Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs. “They are blazing their own trails to success and laying a solid foundation for the next generation of women business leaders.”

Women own about 48 percent of Texas’ privately owned businesses. That includes Patti DeNucci, who owns DeNucci & Co., a freelance talent referral service based in Austin.

“I’ve lived in Texas most of my life,” DeNucci says. “The state’s climate, economic growth and diverse culture are what brought and kept me here. I have friends and colleagues who have started not just one, but several businesses. Those who really work at it, have a knack for it, and have the guts to do it seem to do well.”

Women-Owned Firms in Texas: 1997-2006

Privately Held, Majority Women-Owned
Privately Held, Majority Women-Owned19972006Percent Change
Number of Firms353,204568,69261.0%
Number of Employer Firms63,48865,4813.1%
Total Number of Privately-Held Firms 1,419,9142,00631141.3%

Source: Center for Women’s Business Research, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau

Women-owned businesses continue to pack an economic punch. In 1997, there were 381,500 women-owned businesses in the state. By 2004, the number soared to 791,000. They employed nearly 1.5 million people and generated more than $197 billion in annual sales.

DeNucci started her firm in 2001, a year after her husband started his own business.

“I wanted to be my own boss, choose which clients and projects to take on and have more flexibility in my schedule,” she says. That also meant including the prospect of motherhood.

“We also were ready to start a family, and I just couldn’t see myself as a mom with a traditional 9-to-5 job,” she continues. “I wanted to continue to work after having kids, but on my terms. It was risky, but it never occurred to us that we’d fail.”

Women at Home

Among the states, in 2005 Texas had the fifth-lowest labor force participation rate (percentage working or seeking work) for women aged 20 to 64, with children under six years old. The labor force participation rate for this group was 58.4 percent in Texas. Nine states had participation rates above 70 percent.

“The motivations for working have always been complex and vary from woman to woman,” Krefting says. “Being a stay-at-home mom is a luxury many single moms and working families cannot afford. For other families, a stay-at-home mom involves economic sacrifice, a choice, which some make and others do not.” FN

For more information about networking opportunities involving women in business, contact the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas at

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