Are women-owned businesses breaking into non-traditional industries? Local organizations such as the Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons seem to think so, with more women entrepreneurs entering technology, global trade, health care and professional services. Catherine Grooms, director for the Small Business Development Center, is especially excited to see women take positions of power in global trade, believing the trend will help break down regional barriers. “They’re not limited to their backyard, California or the West Coast,” said Grooms. “Whether it’s a product-based business or service-based business, if they wanted to target one or more continents they could. And there are fewer barriers to entry with technology and resources.” STEAM programs, taught in classrooms across the U.S. which focus on science, tech, engineering, the arts and math, help introduce the idea that women can be accepted into traditionally male-dominated fields at an early age. Karen Boyle, Kathleen Durbin and Joan Hoppock, owners of General Industrial Tool & Supply in Burbank and No. 14 on the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s list of Women-Owned Businesses, turned heads at their first industry convention, being the only women participants. Their firm is profiled on page 12. But the more Hoppocks, Boyles and Durbins there are in male-dominated industries, the easier it will be for other women to establish themselves. When women see chief executives like Jane Skeeter of UltraGlas, No. 30 on the list, expand her business and make connections all over the world, it’s an encouraging prospect that women can not only establish themselves in global industry, but can flourish. And when people feel they belong in the workplace or in their field of expertise, they are 3.5 times more likely to contribute their full potential, according to a March study by global accounting firm Ernst & Young. However, it doesn’t appear that capital is there to back women in these new fields. Less than 3 percent of venture capital funding goes to women-owned businesses, according to a TechCrunch article in January. Local organizations like those led by Grooms see a lack of financial support echoed in the women-owned businesses it serves. “There is starting to be some traction, but if it’s starting at less than 3 percent you can imagine it will take a while,” added Grooms. “Right now, you have women that are leading venture capital firms, or they’re becoming members of venture capital firms where they can influence decisions, so that’s helping.” The Ernst & Young report found companies and the economy benefit in the long run when more women are at the corporate level, whether it’s starting their own businesses or being brought on to run a company. Businesses with women at the top are worth $40 million more than those without, according to the report. Businesses led by women achieve 5.4 percent of GDP growth in the subsequent year, compared to 1.1 percent if led by a man, the report found. Women tend to start their own businesses, as it’s the best and sometimes only way for them to effectively enter certain industries, and it helps them ensure the industry is more inclusive in the future. Gail Becker, owner and founder of Caulipower which ranks No. 17 on the Business Journal’s list of Women-Owned Businesses, is the perfect example of this, starting her own company to create the kind of work environment she sought. Jenny Paige, chief executive and creative director of Media Well Done and No. 31 on the list, started her own graphic design business to have her job be a better fit for her life. They are profiled on page 12 and 14, respectively, of this Special Report.