It was a good year for women-owned businesses.
Companies saw growth in 2019 in almost every corner, from employment to revenue, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express and released in September.
Since 2014, the number of female-run companies increased about 20 percent to a total of nearly 13 million, and firms owned by women of color grew at double that rate. Revenue for women-owned businesses climbed 20 percent, to nearly $2 trillion.
Most of that growth is concentrated in a handful of fields. We took a look at the five industries that have reported the biggest jump in revenue between 2014 and 2019:
The historically male-dominated fields of construction and contracting appear to be getting a female overhaul: The industry saw a 30 percent growth in women-owned companies over the past five years, putting it at the top of the list.
One reason more women might be getting into construction and contracting is because more are being exposed to STEM fields. For instance, Schillivia Baptiste, who owns Laland Baptiste, a construction company based in Brooklyn, N.Y., told CNBC that she loved science, technology, engineering and math classes as a child, and discovered engineering jobs as a high school student. She’s worked on a mix of major commercial and residential projects.
For Kryshon Bratton, one Houston-based construction company wasn’t enough — after transforming her husband’s lifeguarding business into Bratton Pools, which builds and maintains swimming pools, she decided to launch Piper Whitney. They build parking lots, drives and walkways using permeable materials that are durable and more environmentally sustainable than traditional asphalt and concrete. The company brought in about $500,000 in revenue in its first year in 2015.
[Related: Learning the ABCs of Corporate Contracts]
It may not sound like the sexiest industry, but it comprised 28 percent of growth among women-owned businesses. It appears many get into the business by taking over companies from their fathers or uncles — and starting their own. According to an industry magazine, women are taking on larger management roles at trucking companies now that some big carriers are recognizing the benefits of gender diversity.
Angelica Garcia-Dunn started her own Houston-based shipping and transportation company, AIM Global Logistics, a $20 million company that specializes in oil and gas transportation, after dealing with personal struggles. Even parents are getting into the industry in more tech-savvy ways: In 2012, Sara Schaer launched kid-friendly ride-share app Kango, which recently announced a $3.6 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by National Express, a transportation firm that operates a fleet of more than 25,000 vehicles. Schaer started her Bay Area venture with her own kids in mind — she had been a stressed-out mom looking for safe rides for her preschool-age children.
3. Food Services
Female stars of the food industry, which saw revenue grow by 27 percent, have served up more options as consumers take wellness, social justice and sustainability issues into account when making decisions about where to spend their dollars and what to put in their bodies. In just a snapshot, Padma Lakshmi recognized the female founder of plant-based dessert company Hakuna Brands; new kitchens started by women are helping immigrants and refugees find restaurant jobs and a crucial sense of community; and a Philadelphia-based entrepreneur decided to rebuild the regional food infrastructure through her wholesaler nonprofit, The Common Market. And that’s just the icing on the all-natural cake.
4. Information Services
Long after Facebook and Twitter made their mark, upstart technologists are finding new ways to deliver information straight to consumers’ fingertips — for more diverse audiences. Female-founded information services businesses grew by 24 percent, and Sherell Dorsey can count herself as a contributor. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based entrepreneur founded ThePLUG in 2016 to cover and aggregate black tech news. Recent stories feature microfinance startup Kiva, black lawmakers fighting to regulate technology and a bootcamp that trains black founders.
5. Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
These services comprised 22 percent of women-owned business growth, and include everything from consultancies, insurance companies and law firms to architecture practices, accounting outfits and medical services.
Inspiring examples from the scientific sector include creators of an all-terrain wheelchair and affordable prosthetic limbs. Tish Scolnik started GRIT, a Boston company that grew out of a research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Freedom Chair, an outdoor-ready wheelchair, now has riders in 49 states and six countries, and Scolnik was the recent recipient of an award that recognizes Boston small business owners.
Another young woman helming a startup that helps people lead better lives is Erin Keaney, a 29-year-old plastics engineer who co-founded Nonspec, which offers affordable prosthetic limbs for amputees who live in developing nations. Keaney shows how plastic can be useful in the medical device field. To date, the company has raised $1.5 million in “equity-free” seed money, which means she retains full control. Prosthetics are now available in Africa, India and the Philippines.