As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I wanted to share how it is important for us all to reflect on women’s progress in the business world and the importance of supporting and empowering women-owned businesses, particularly in the early childhood education sector.
For decades, women have fought for equality in the workplace and have made significant strides in breaking down barriers and glass ceilings. Women-owned businesses have played a vital role in this fight, creating jobs and driving innovation while inspiring a new generation of women entrepreneurs. During my early teens, I was fortunate to have several mentors who saw potential in me and inspired me to pursue leadership roles. These mentors were pivotal in shaping my future. As I pursued an undergraduate degree at CUNY York College, I found encouragement from the entire Political Science Department, who believed in me and encouraged me to take on more leadership roles, including working for Congressman Gregory Meeks.
Women-owned businesses are essential not only for their economic impact but also for the values they embody. Women tend to prioritize social responsibility, community involvement, and diversity in their businesses, which can lead to a more equitable and sustainable future for all. Despite the many benefits of women-owned businesses, we still face numerous challenges. According to the National Women’s Business Council, women entrepreneurs often struggle to access capital and resources and face societal and cultural biases against women in leadership positions.
Women-owned businesses serve as role models for young girls and women who may not have considered entrepreneurship as a viable career path. By owning their businesses, women can create their own paths to success.
As a female entrepreneur and advocate for early childhood education, I have seen firsthand the power of women-owned businesses in creating positive change in our communities. I have made it one of my missions to help other women become owners of their own early childhood education centers.
Unfortunately, sometimes you must fail before you succeed. My path has not been easy. When I opened my first home-based childcare center while in college, I saw the need for a better support system in early childhood education. I was not prepared for the challenges I would face. I had to close that center, but I am grateful for this journey as it led me to open my current center, The Innovative Daycare Corp (NY), which is thriving.
I serve on the advisory committee for the nation’s preeminent early childhood education signal of quality and standards, the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Serving on this committee has allowed me to encourage other women to raise their voices and advocate for one another. I have also been able to provide valuable insights and recommendations that help shape policies and practices that benefit all early childhood educators. Earning the CDA myself has given me the knowledge and unique skills to support the betterment of my students and myself.
Early childhood education is a highly demanding profession that requires extensive education, training, and experience. Unfortunately, many early childhood educators struggle to make ends meet due to low wages and lack of benefits such as health insurance, paid sick leave, and retirement plans. My salary is almost always sacrificed to sustain my center and support my staff, whom I value tremendously.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 94% of early childhood educators in the United States were women. This overrepresentation of women in the profession contributes to the perception that it is not a respected profession, as women’s work is often undervalued and underpaid. Just last month, CNBC reported that early childhood education is among the top 10 worst-paying college majors. It is essential to address these gender disparities and provide early childhood educators with the recognition and support they deserve.
Women-owned businesses are vital to the economic and social fabric of our society. As we celebrate women not just Women’s History Month, let us recognize the contributions of women entrepreneurs and commit to supporting and empowering them in their journeys. Doing so can create a brighter future for all women and girls.