Women are starting and operating their own businesses in growing numbers.

The most recent government statistics show that women now own 3.7 million businesses, generating $65 billion a year. That is almost one-third of all firms in the United States. A decade ago, women owned 700,000 companies.Traditionally, women-owned businesses were mainly in retail services. But this is changing. In a "Women of Enterprise" awards program organized by Avon Products Inc. and the U.S. Small Business Administration, the winners included female owners of a construction company, a janitorial service, an oil production company, a management consulting firm and a sausage-making firm.