Corporate Chicas

Women’s Museum Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneurship is set to be a powerful force in the next century—something that big corporations and financial institutions are finally starting to recognize. So it’s hard to believe that only 25 years ago, in many states, women needed a male relative or spouse to co-sign for a loan. To honor how far businesswomen have come, the National Women’s History Museum and Microsoft have teamed up to launch a fun, informative online exhibit about female entrepreneurship. Spanning more than a century, the exhibit—entitled “From Ideas to Independence: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women”—looks at the transformation of business from something deemed “unsuitable for women’s gentle and frail natures” to a flourishing realm of female innovation. Elizabeth Arden and Ruth Fertel (of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse) are here, as well as Estée Lauder, Martha Stewart, and ad exec Mary Wells (the Peggy Olson of her time). Highlights include a look at the early seeds of female entrepreneurship, in the millineries and alehouses of the 19th century, and a section on “Motherhood and Business," which would be right at home as reading for one of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In groups.