Women have become a huge presence in the franchise world.

The Wall Street Journal reports (“Women Flock to Franchising”) on the phenomenon in its news section this morning:

As of May, women own or co-own 35% of the franchise outlets in the U.S.—around 265,000—according to the Franchise Business Review research firm. That represents outlet growth of 24% from a decade earlier, and in the two years ended in May, 41% of new franchise outlets opened have been owned or co-owned by women. And in some sectors, such as interior decorating, they far outnumber their male counterparts.

The growth reflects women’s growing prominence in the corporate world, say experts and entrepreneurs. As women gain access to more resources and connections, experts say, they are increasingly venturing out and starting businesses of their own.

“I think it’s driven by the fact we have more women in C-level upper-management positions than ever before, and when those women leave corporate America, they have more confidence to run their own business,” says Jania Bailey, chief executive officer of franchise marketplace FranNet.

The growth in women franchises comes in the midst of a boom time for women's entrepreneurship in general.

Betweem 2007 and 2019, the number of privately held busineses majority owned by women, franchises or not, surged by 68 %, according to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express.

In many cases, a franchise simply fits the specific needs of women:

Choosing a franchise over starting an untested venture can be particularly appealing for women who may be entering the workforce later in life, says Dawn Lafreeda, who owns 90 Denny’s franchises—making her the chain’s largest single owner.

“Your kids are grown up. You’re at home now, and you have time on your hands,” says Ms. Lafreeda, a former Denny’s waitress who bought her first franchise with credit cards at age 23. “Do you want to spend two years of your life creating something, or do you want to say, ‘I really like that concept, I wonder if I could open one?’ It’s a much shorter path to ownership than starting from ground zero.”

So far, the most popular sectors for women franchisees have been child services, business services, senior care, travel and real estate. 

Although women have yet to make big inroads into larger sectors such as sit-down restaurants—where they own 17% of franchises—women outnumber their male counterparts in a number of industries, according to FRANdata. Among them: interior-decorating services (86% of franchises are women-owned), modeling schools and beauty pageants (68%), clothing, toys and accessories (63%) and travel agencies (61%).

Read the entire article.