FAYETTEVILLE — Women now make up a third of all business owners, but discrimination still exists. Women who run their own businesses often face challenges that men do not. They say they are not taken seriously.
Suzette Jadotte has owned her own home improvement business since 1998. She says, as a woman, it has been difficult to break into an industry filled with men.
"It's just trying to put your foot in and let them know you are capable," she says.
State Rep. Mike McIntyre and Sen. John Edwards participated Tuesday in a roundtable discussion. During National Business Women's Week, they want to know how they can help female business owners succeed.
"I think the key is to show where there is opportunity, you lessen the chance of discrimination," McIntyre says.
"We need to keep talking about it. Show women the respect they deserve," Edwards says.
As the owner of a solid waste collection company, Pansy McCamie was the lowest bidder on federal contracts four different times. She was turned away each time. She says having a new, small business worked against her.
"It started to make me feel less. I took all my bad and negative energy I received from not getting those contracts and took it to make a positive," she says.
That positive came in October in the form of winning a $300,000 contract at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm not going to let it stop me.' I'm going to keep going and, sooner or later, I'm going to land one and I did," she says.
President Clinton recently issued an executive order to make sure more women have access to federal contracts. Currently, just 2 percent of federal contracts go to women. If they can increase that to five percent, it would translate into $10 billion.