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nerdwallet212Washington D.C., San Francisco and Seattle — these are the places to be if you’re a woman and want to start a business.

That’s according to NerdWallet’s latest look at the best cities for female entrepreneurs. The personal finance site based their findings on five variables, with stats coming from the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Business-friendliness: The number of businesses per 100 residents to assess a city’s entrepreneurial climate.

2. Presence of female entrepreneurs: The percentage of businesses that are owned by women to measure how friendly each location is to female entrepreneurs.

3. Earnings of female workers: The median earnings for full-time female workers.

4. Education level: The percentage of residents 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

5. Economic state: Unemployment rates from December 2013.

Seattle finished third on the list, ranking highest among the top 10 for percentage of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Here’s what NerdWallet had to say about the Emerald City:

Seattle is one of the most educated cities in the U.S., with nearly 58% of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. This correlates well with the city’s high median salary for women and relatively low unemployment rate. Seattle has 12.5 businesses per 100 residents, which is one of the highest such figures of all cities. Local resources for entrepreneurial women include Women Business Owners and Women’s Business Exchange, both of which are active networking committees that help connect women in business.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Washington D.C.
  2. San Francisco
  3. Seattle
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Portland, OR
  6. Atlanta
  7. Denver
  8. Austin
  9. San Jose
  10. Boston

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, 8.6 million firms that employ nearly 7.8 million people are owned by women. In addition, the number of women-owned firms has increased by 59 percent from 1997, and today, 29 percent of all businesses are owned by women.

Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi speaks at the 2013 GeekWire Summit.
Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi speaks at the 2013 GeekWire Summit.

However, this study notes that women-owned firms only employ 6 percent of the country’s workforce and contribute less than 4 percent of business revenues — statistics that haven’t changed much since 1997.

There is also the issue of women in tech — or rather, the lack thereof. For example, just six percent of CEOs at the top 100 tech companies are women, while just over 10 percent of all venture capitalists are female.

Hadi Partovi, longtime entrepreneur and co-founder of Seattle-based non-profit Code.org, recently published a blog post that offered up the “real reason there aren’t more women in tech.” He listed three problems:

  1. Computer science is not taught in U.S. schools
  2. As an elective, it doesn’t contribute to graduation requirements
  3. The nerd stereotype is proven to drive away women

Partovi noted that it is actually different three decades ago, when young women earned 37 percent of computer science degrees, compared to 18 percent today.

“Computer science is for every 21st century student,” Partovi writes. “How do we start making that a reality? Simple. Teach it in our schools. Show girls that other girls are trying it too.”

Seventh graders from Seattle Girls School crowd around LiquidPlanner software engineer Josh Gross, who shows off software development in action. Photo courtesy of Mark Holton.
As part of an all-day field trip about entrepreneurship, seventh graders from Seattle Girls School crowd around LiquidPlanner software engineer Josh Gross, who shows off software development in action. Photo courtesy of Mark Holton.

Here in Seattle, there are several notable female entrepreneurs doing big things from Julep.com CEO Jane Park to Modumetal CEO Christina Lomasney, just to name a few. In a recent effort to educate younger girls about starting their own businesses, LiquidPlanner CEO Liz Pearce organized an all-day field trip for 7th grade girls from Seattle Girls’ School.

“We put on the event to inspire the girls to become entrepreneurs, technologists, and business leaders in our community,” Pearce said.

What do you think? Is the lack of women in tech a big problem, and if so, what can be done to fix it?

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