A network for women | NevadaAppeal.com

A network for women

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Since Susan Barry of Gardnerville entered the chiropractor business about 13 years ago she’s seen a change in the industry – namely more women owning their firms.

“I do think more women are owning their businesses, and I do think more women are entering non-traditional fields,” said Barry, who last year decided to join WE of the World, a business networking organization for women that was started in Carson City.

Christy Virden, a former insurance agent, said she founded the networking group to help women business owners meet, share ideas and support each other.

Since then, she said, WE of the World has grown to more than 200 members and has added seven chapters in the Reno, Tahoe and Las Vegas areas as well as Roseville, Calif.

“I think there’s more of a push toward (networking groups) right now because of the economy,” Virden said. “People are having to market differently.”

Virden said she’s planning on opening a Utah chapter within the year. Next month, WE of the World will award three $500 scholarships to women who attend or are planning on attending Western Nevada College.

Virden said chapters meet for monthly lunch meetings. The Carson City chapter meets the second Thursday of each month at B’sghetti’s. It costs $70 to join for the year.

From chiropractors and beyond, more women are owning businesses, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. In an October report, the center found that a projected 8 million businesses were owned by women in 2008, up from 6.4 million in 2002.

A report released last month found that women-owned firms have been increasing in economic prowess, generating an estimated $3 trillion a year in economic activity, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.

Still, the same report notes that women-owned firms produce just 4.2 percent of all U.S. business revenues, which the report notes is likely because most women-owned businesses tend to be smaller and operating for a shorter period of time.

Regardless, “Women’s impact in the economy is growing even if the businesses haven’t been growing,” said Allison Gilmore, a spokeswoman for the National Women’s Business Council.

Barry, who is now the president of the organization’s Carson Valley chapter, said it’s important for businesswomen to learn from each other.

“I joined… not because I thought it would bring me more business, but because I wanted the support of other women,” Barry said.

Darcy K. Houghton, who owns a Carson City law firm that bears her name, joined WE of the World last year for its “social environment that’s also professional.”

She said while it’s helped her meet other professional women, it’s also helped her build something that’s especially important during turbulent economic times.

“In 2009, people are being reminded that relationships grow business,” Houghton said.