Most federal efforts to halt discrimination against female business owners have been "superficial, unimaginative and lacking in long-term commitment," said a bipartisan House report released Saturday.
The report by the Small Business Committee also concluded that "the federal government has been seriously delinquent" in helping female entrepreneurs gain access to government contracts and subcontracts.Furthermore, the report said, wom-en face gender-related barriers that severely limit their access to business credit. It also said that statistics on female entrepreneurs are insufficient to help policy makers deal with these problems.
Women owned 25 percent of U.S. businesses in 1982 but received only 10 percent of business receipts, according to the Census Bureau. Business size and type account for some but not all of the discrepancy, the report said.
"There are other, less defensible reasons - namely sex stereotyping and continued discrimination," the report said. "Women have had to work harder, wait longer, manage with fewer dollars, and be content with smaller operations just to maintain their present levels of independence and business success."
The chairman of the Small Business Committee, John J. LaFalce, D-N.Y., plans to introduce an Omnibus Women's Business Ownership bill later this month along with Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., head of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues.
According to the report, women owned less than 5 percent of American businesses 15 years ago compared with 28 percent today. They are starting firms at twice the rate of men and are expected to own half of U.S. businesses by the year 2000.