Owning a business is no small feat, no matter who you are, what background you come from, or what type of business you’re running. But one thing that plays a major role in a business’s ultimate success (or failure) is its location. Is it positioned in a heavily-trafficked area? Are there enough people in the target demographic to make up the customer base? And depending on who the business owner is, the location may make even more of a difference. 

Throughout the course of history, women have faced a never-ending list of obstacles in the professional world. Centuries ago, most women would have never dreamed of owning their own business. Now, those dreams are much more than reality. Still, there are many environmental factors at play for women looking to set up shop and turn their passions into a steady income. 

A new report by Deputy, time scheduling software, recently mapped out the U.S. cities where women own the most and least small businesses. And while we may hope that there are equal opportunities for men and women alike across the nation, the numbers suggest that that may not always be the case. 

To find out where across America the gaps are largest, the team at Deputy sourced data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy to find the states with the most and least women-owned small businesses per capita. They also cross-analyzed significant data points in order to plot the gender gaps in small business owners across the nation.

The number one state where women own the most small businesses is not even a state at all. That title belongs to our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. With more than 4,700 female-owned businesses per 100,000 residents, you’re sure to find a local gem worth supporting. 

Interestingly, DC is no stranger to rankings like this. For example, a recent research report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that the district leads the nation in access to employment, earnings, and women in management positions. On the flip side, that same report found that DC ranks #48 out of 51 for women’s health and well-being. 

Not all of the top states are situated on the east coast. In fact, from Georgia to California, there’s representation across the map on both ends of the spectrum. It’s tough to pinpoint geographical trends or patterns in where women-owned businesses are most saturated; but the good news is, no matter where you are, you’re probably not too far from a female-led shop. 

Many of the heavily populated states, including New York, Florida, and California appear on the top 10 list as positions #10, #2, and #6 respectively. It’s important to note that this data has taken population into consideration, so these highly populated states aren’t just ranking high because there are more people. 

Nationally, there are just under 3,400 women-owned small businesses per 100,000 Americans. While it may not be a perfect 50/50 split, it’s fair to say that females own a large portion of the 32 million small businesses around the U.S. 

The Deputy report also called out which states lack the most in this area. West Virginia is at the bottom of the list, with less than half of DC’s small businesses per capita: 2,265. The mountain state is followed by Wisconsin and Kentucky, respectively. 

“West Virginia has the least women-owned small businesses per 100k population, while Kentucky and Delaware place third and fourth, respectively,” Deputy says. “Southern states also have a worse gender pay gap overall, with females earning less than 78 cents on the dollar on average — compared to the national average of 82 cents for every dollar paid to a male.” 

courtesy of Deputy

The study also highlighted gender gaps around the nation when it comes to small businesses. While no single state is home to more women-owned small businesses than men-owned, some are closer to equality than others.

Louisiana leads the charge with a difference of just 309 small businesses. While that may sound like a lot, look to Maine for further context, where the gap is a stark 2,600 businesses. The state closest behind Louisiana is New Mexico, which has a gap of nearly triple that of Louisiana’s: 849. The third smallest gap in the nation belongs to a place we previously mentioned, DC.

Interestingly, West Virginia, which appeared at the bottom of the ranking of women-owned small businesses per capita, falls among the top states with the smallest gap. WV has the sixth narrowest gender gap at a difference of roughly 1,200 businesses. That means that there’s a larger issue at hand of fewer small businesses in the state compared to the rest of the country. 

“We wanted to provide an overview of the states with the smallest and largest gaps between men and women-owned small businesses across the country,” the report states. “While female entrepreneurship is growing in some states, it’s clear that progress and fair wages still need to be accomplished across the board.”

If you’re interested to see where your state falls in the data, you can find their full report here. Ultimately, no matter where you live or who you are, supporting small businesses in any form or fashion is an incredibly beneficial gesture for the community. Not only does supporting small businesses help your neighbors and the economy—you might just come out of the transaction with some of your most prized possessions!