Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
No. 1 state for female entrepreneurs is Texas: Study (dallasnews.com)
66 points by amyjess 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

Not too surprising. The major cities in Texas are very diverse, dynamic places, with a lot of bootstrapping/entrepreneurship in the culture.

I lived in Houston for a bit, and one thing I noticed is people there never ask “where do you work?,” they ask “what do you do?” It was incredibly common for someone to answer with something like: “I’m a carpenter and I’m building up my furniture-design business. I’m also working at a bank for now while I get that going.”

Underrated place.

Underrated place

The problem is that a large portion of the nation enjoys clinging to their stereotypes of Texas and Texas cities.

A place could be more liberal than Berkeley, but if it's in Texas a certain segment of the population will think it's nothing but King of the Hill.

This is what happens when people get their information from the internet echo chambers and talking political heads instead of going places.

Ultimately, there are two issues that come into play:

1) Our state government is often at odds with the cities on this. Case in point, the Lieutenant Governor and the state legislature nearly passing a bathroom bill in 2017. It was only stopped because the Speaker of the House put his foot down and refused to allow a vote. Businesses were vehemently opposed to a bathroom bill, but that didn't matter to the Lt. Gov, the state Senate, and all the members of the House who would've voted for it (it would have been a majority) if the Speaker allowed it. The extreme conservatism of the state government also means that there's no statewide non-discrimination laws (and the legislature came within a hair of revoking the ability of cities to have their own non-discrimination ordinances in 2017, but Speaker Straus squashed it along with the bathroom bill), which means that if you're openly LGBT and you set foot outside one of the little urban islands of blue, you're basically screwed. The state government will also regularly target blue cities' regulations, as well. In 2017, the state legislature revoked the cities' ability to regulate rideshare companies in response to Austin passing consumer-protection laws that Uber and Lyft didn't like. More recently, the state AG is suing Austin for passing a mandatory sick-leave law arguing it violates free enterprise. If you're a blue person living in a blue city in a red state, this is what you'll have to deal with.

2) King of the Hill is never far away, no matter how blue your city or neighborhood is. If you're in Deep Ellum, a very blue hipstery neighborhood of Dallas, you're only a stone's throw away from Garland, which King of the Hill was actually based on. If you live in deep-blue Austin, you're not far from Pflugerville and Round Rock, which are much more conservative. Now, personally I don't mind it. As liberal as I am, I live in the suburbs, and I love living in the suburbs, but well, you get the confluence of both this point and the above one...

Keep in mind the way our cities are laid out, there are seamless transitions between cities and suburbs, and our embrace of edge cities means that much of the local economy is in the suburbs. People who live in blue cities may very well end up spending most of their time in red suburbs. This means that a) the lack of statewide discrimination laws and other protections will affect you personally, and b) people who don't want to set foot in Arlen will often end up having to do so. You can't just say "I'm going to move to Deep Ellum and never set foot outside the neighborhood" because the metro area isn't set up for people to get everything they need from one neighborhood or even from one city. You can expect to have to set foot in some deep-red parts of town for work or shopping or some other essential service.

For the record, I'm a liberal LGBT Texas native who has never moved out of town and currently lives in a conservative part of Dallas proper and works in a very conservative suburb. I've only ever considered moving out of town when a bathroom bill was on the table, and the Lieutenant Governor's recent announcement that he's given up and isn't going to pursue it this year has made me decide against a move I was considering. I love Dallas to death, and I never really wanted to move even in 2017 when I was worrying myself half to death over the bathroom bill (I would have moved if it passed, but I would have seen myself as a refugee, and I'd never stop pining for home), but it's despite the state government's shit, and I can understand why a lot of people just don't want to deal with it at all.

This is my favorite type of tangled web:

Employees and leaders of liberal-minded companies on the west coast make negative remarks about a state in 'fly-over country'. Said state, attempts to implement policies that go against the policy wishes of liberal-minded folk in said state. Time passes, and said state tries to implement policies that leaders from liberal-minded companies on the west coast would like but which go against wishes of liberal-minded folk in said state. Liberal-minded comedy show hosts then roast said state for trying to implement said policies, and state that it is basically a physical law that said state is backwards and definitively within said 'fly-over country'. Employees and leaders within liberal-minded companies on the west coast make negative remarks about...

This just reminds me of David Foster Wallace's quote that, "human beings are generally pathetic."

FWIW, this is not unique to Texas.

New York City vs. New York State, Chicago vs. Illinois, Las Vegas vs. Nevada, Milwaukee vs. Wisconsin, Seattle vs. Washington, Charleston vs. West Virginia, Philadelphia & Pittsburgh vs. Pennsylvania, etc...

California, too. But there it’s a little more complex.

Diversity may be a piece of the puzzle, but there are other diverse places, so possibly more is contributing?

No income tax helps.

The gov't still get their money through higher property taxes. This has been a problem recently, as property values and accessed values have gone up dramatically in the past few years. Lots of this money gets funneled up to the state to help pay for programs.

It's gotten bad enough that the state is looking to cap property tax growth, much like California currently does. We have a good idea how that will turn out. And it will likely stress budgets enough to require implementing state income tax, or raising sales tax (maybe both).


The Metroplex (North Texas) is not all of Texas.

Cheap labor?

I don't know, I was thinking maybe because Houston is a large trade/energy hub. But maybe that is also too simple. Probably a lot of factors

It could be surprising to some people that it's in conservative state - one of the most conservative.

It could be surprising to some people that it's in conservative state - one of the most conservative.

You've really got to let go of your stereotypes and do some actual research.

For example, in the most recent election the results for senator were 50.8% Republican, and 48.3% Democrat. That's not hardcore conservative by any definition.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/06/us/elections/...

A single data point doesn't have enough data imo.

So follow the link and explore. There's tons of data there.

Here’s one for free: The previous mayor of Houston is openly gay, and currently CEO and President of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute. That doesn’t sound like “most conservative” to me.

There’s plenty of other data points out there. But the best way to overcome bigotry is to do independent research.

With low taxes, minimal regulation, state self-sufficiency, and no knee-jerk reactions to "fix" every social problem through the government this shouldn't come as a surprise.

I think you are oversimplifying.

Your conditions don't really account for Minnesota being #3 on the list. As a Minnesotan I'd proudly describe our state as high-tax, having an appropriate level of regulation (aka much more than Texas), community focused, with lots of interest in finding smart government way to fix lots of social problems. Just another way to get to being a better place for women entrepreneurs.

Nobody is moving to Minnesota, but hordes are going to Texas.

Minnesota's population has been pretty much flat, but the Twin Cities' population grew by ~7.4% between 2010 and 2017 [0]. That's much lower than Austin's 20%+ increase during that time frame and lower than Texas's ~12% overall increase, but definitely not "nobody." There are lots of Wisconsin transplants (myself included) thanks to Wisconsin's mediocre job market for white-collar jobs. And many of those transplants are engineers and/or work in fields like healthcare that have lots of opportunities for startups.

[0] http://www.startribune.com/census-twin-cities-adds-quarter-m...

This is what I meant: "Minnesota's population has been pretty much flat".

Probably, the cold has something to do with that.

Yeah, that probably has to do with the population decline.

But as for the rating, North Dakota is at #8, so I don't think cold weather is hurting that.

This is true. I know at least a dozen former Minnesotans, and the number one reason they all cite for leaving is the weather.

Have you even lived in Texas for a summer? Cold you just put coats on.

Is it possible that a 10-year old can be summoned in front of a judge in Texas?

Are stories about police stopping children going home a mile away and taking away their parents' parents rights have any merit?

If so, what are your definitions for places, moving where shouldn't come as a surprise?


What is meant by state self-sufficiency in this context? Financial / natural resources / other?

Quite a few things, from power distribution, natural disaster management, education, economy, and technically being the largest standing militia in the world if you take number of firearms per capita.

Got it, thanks.

Citation needed for the last part though.

Makes sense to me. I was much more relaxed around women in Houston, and I remember my interactions more positively. You could just relax and be charmed, if that's what the situation warranted. Here in the Bay Area, you have to maintain something of a "game face" until you figure out it's safe to open up.

I wonder why.

(no, I don't wonder why because I know why's that. Spoiler: Not women's fault.)

And yeah, citation needed because anecdotal data is not data.

(no, I don't wonder why because I know why's that. Spoiler: Not women's fault.)

You discount another's account, and with no additional information, you can miraculously assume what the underlying information is. That's going one better than Sherlock, who actually infers from evidence. In my lifetime, I've found that this kind of conclusion jumping is one of the most reliable indicators of bigotry. However we don't need to jump to any conclusions here. In this case, you just up and state what it is you're doing.

Spoiler: Not women's fault.

It's not a good idea to assume things about people based on their immutable characteristics. (Isn't there a technical term for assuming women are innocent, just because they're women?)

That sort of bigotry was done to me as a child, based on my race. At the time, I thought it was cool. Now, I realize that counter factual muddling which separates someone from the consequences of their merits or faults diminishes their humanity. Don't put people up on pedestals. Deal with them as human beings.

That is pretty interesting, Texas seems to be pretty business positive in every aspect it can be. I continue to wonder how much Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos has hurt the prospects of other female entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, and startups in Silicon Valley in general.

Texas is also serious about keeping the cost of housing down. It helps that there’s a lot of land, but as the major cities are now boxed in by as much sprawl as people are willing to drive through (ala LA), they have lower barriers to densification and redevelopment compared to most places. Austin isn’t doing as well in that regard but the other cities have made it more of a priority.

As a Dallas native:

1) There are no natural borders in the Dallas area, so development can sprawl forever and ever unlike in SV/SV and LA which are boxed in by mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

2) Pretty much the entire metro area embraces the concept of edge cities. Someone who lives in Frisco (an exurb) is more likely to commute to Plano (an inner-ring suburb) than to Downtown Dallas. And people who live in Dallas proper may even commute to the suburbs. For an example of the former, I have a friend in McKinney (another exurb) who currently works in Frisco and is interviewing for a position in Lewisville (I guess you could call it another exurb). For an example of the latter, I personally live in Far North Dallas, a very suburban section of Dallas proper, and I commute to work in Plano (and I've had two jobs in the past where I've commuted to Richardson, which was a lateral commute, as Richardson is due east of me while Downtown is due south of me... though both of my jobs in Richardson have been slightly north of where I live).

Now, that's not to say that densification in the suburbs isn't a thing at all. Just take a look at all the development at the Tollway & 121 in Plano or the CityLine area in Richardson (I wish I could share pictures of the former, but it's so new that half the development doesn't show up on Google Maps and even less of it shows up on Street View). But it's not necessary for continuous growth thanks to our lack of natural borders and embrace of edge cities.

We also do a pretty good job with the street layout as well. We have six-lane divided arterials on a one-mile grid that covers not only Dallas proper but also the suburbs, making it easy to navigate across long distances. Compare this to spaghettified messes like Silicon Valley or pretty much every suburb in the eastern US (I'm thinking of NoVa and Atlanta here... and let's throw in the Philly and NYC suburbs too), and it's heaven. It also makes the Dallas area look like a waffle iron at night: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dallas_Metropolitan_Area_...

Let me defend the philly suburbs for a second here:

The actual philly grid extends _quite_ far out, ~hour drive outside city center. On top of that, the light rail goes WAY outside in a bunch of key directions, with rather impressive bus connections.

Don't get me wrong, as a now-seattlite I would be remiss to criticize robust road transportation (god knows ours isn't) but I think you're looking at Philly through the wrong lense. I never needed, wanted, or had any friends who wanted a car while living there (especially since more modern tooling like zipcar and now ridesharing), and I miss that greatly. I don't think I could manage the commute I did via public transit alone in many cities other than some of the NE hubs you mention. (I'd add boston in too, at least back when I was there the T+Bus connections were great)

It doesn't extend very far into the western suburbs, though. Example: https://goo.gl/maps/TZDgVrsLsbE2

At the same zoom level here are some exurbs of Dallas (Frisco and McKinney to be specific) which are pretty close to the edge of continuous development: https://goo.gl/maps/MsQBWBX9pH12

This part of the Dallas area is much farther out from Downtown Dallas than the first screenshot is from Downtown Philly.

(Also, this bit here isn't about Dallas vs. Philly, but here's a selection that shows off why I love Dallas's grid so much -- https://goo.gl/maps/1NEtE6WnYX42 -- it's from Plano, an inner-ring suburb that was mostly built out in the '80s and '90s and probably some of the '00s. Note that there are shopping centers at almost every single intersection of arterials. Since arterials are on a one-mile grid, this means that no matter where you live, you are never more than sqrt(2)/2 mi. from a place to shop even though you're living in a very pleasant suburban subdivision.)

You're not wrong but I think that misses my point.


The rail offers great coverage way into the western parts where the grid breaks down.

To avoid us talking past each other, recognize that to me the whole "Grid with shopping centers on every arterial intersection" seems like the most horrific implementation of corporate "pleasantville" I could imagine. Echoing what I said before, what I found beneficial about Philly is being able to traverse so many different areas and vibes with only public transit.

I bring this up exclusively to advocate for rail, because it often seems to be subsumed under the "build better/more roads." (Which, again, I broadly support, but the positive impact accessible rail had to my life cannot be understated)

Business owner (capital) positive, not business positive.

Almost all of these “studies” have an agenda, and usually it is to promote a low tax state. So, I would take this with a huge grain of salt. Especially the article states that Texas was propelled to #1 from #8, because of preventative healthcare for women. What ?? What about very real restrictions to abortion for women in Texas ? Also, just looking at raw VC numbers, Texas is far far behind CA and NY when it comes to entrepreneurship. This almost sounds like a study that started with a conclusion and wanted to apply “community adjusted EBITDA”

The question here is how do the authors define "startup"? "VC-funded tech company" has a very different implication than "new business".

The other question here may be "Is the number 1 state for female entrepreneurs the same as the number 1 state for any entrepreneur?"

If so, then we have a case of "the rising tide floats all boats".

Edit: Never mind. The answer to my question is "No", this is not a case of a rising tide floats all boats. Texas is specifically better for female entrepreneurs. Which is an interesting result.

it’s probably more on the “new business” end of the scale, but that doesn’t matter. what matters is that we support small businesses, particularly those led by women, for a more robust and just society.

(texas’s obsession with taxes is bemusing—-it’s like saying i’m sophisticated because i shop at old navy! i kid, i kid... i don’t need any more avocado toast thrown at me)

We have an interesting relationship with taxes.

We have no state income tax, and our gas tax is low enough to force most new highways into being toll roads, but our property taxes are sky high.

In fact, we have higher property taxes than California. Now, because property is so much less expensive here than in CA, you still have cheaper housing costs, but in Texas a much higher percentage of that is tax.

yah, the money has to come from somewhere and texas has a lot of roads and schools (in a prior job, texas used my product in it's property tax assessments).

i think the focus on low taxes is born of a frustration with corruption, inefficiency, and unfairness. so let's hold elected officials to those standards rather than focus on tax rates, which is both a proxy and a distraction (also true of the 'small government' talking point).

What matters is that we vote for a government that doesn't continuously tilt the playing field to the larger players' advantage.

So, I was discussing this with a friend on Facebook last night, and one thing that both of us agreed on is that the bro culture of Silicon Valley may be driving women away. This is what my friend, who works in Dallas, had to say about SV:

> I've read too many stories about "career advancing" sex parties and "favors" that need to be done to make me never want to work in that pile of dung.

Archive link for those unable to view the article: http://archive.is/0KJyA

Also, I had to cut a word from the title to fit HN's length limit. I hope that's OK.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18940759 and marked it off-topic.

Right before they ask “why arent you married” and “when are you having children”?

I hung out with a quite left-leaning bunch of neo-hippies, hipsters, trad musicians, techies, hackerspace people. The blue part of Houston, basically. At one point, I was dating a neo-hippieish woman and was invited to one of her parties. The assumption in conversation was that everyone had kids. It's not necessarily a social conservative thing.

Texas is pretty diverse, though. Did you know there's a significant German speaking community there? Lots of them come from a group that ended up there because they were a community of staunch abolitionists trying to move away from governments that supported slavery. (That part didn't work out, though.)

I would say that Houston is sort of "working man's cosmopolitan."

Or thats not a problem because everyone is already on their 2nd marriage by 28?

This is what anti-Southerner prejudice looks like.

>This is what anti-Southerner prejudice looks like.

It's just anti $place_that_votes_redder_than_my_place. People in Boston say the same thing about Maine. People in Portland say the same thing about "the county" (Aroostook county, it's up there if you didn't guess from context).

Houston isn't red but it's redder than where most people on HN are from so the same rhetoric is applied to it (by some people).

There's similar rhetoric applied by (some) people in red voting areas to people from $place_that_votes_bluer_than_them.

Edit: Anyone care to tell my why I'm wrong rather than mashing the "this opinion is inconvenient" button?

Because both you and the parent turned it into a red/right/political thing that it wasnt

Wow. Bigoted much?

This "study" is yet another in a long line which look at things they think should drive business growth, rather than looking at actual business growth. It's basically a list of states that have the most right-wing public policies.

The most relevant factor -- number of female owned business -- is only weighted 25%. It mentions that 20% of businesses in Texas are woman-owned, but it doesn't provide numbers for any other state for comparison.

Lucky for us, the National Association of Women Business Owners has commissioned a more accurate study of the subject:


There's some overlap, but there are also states like Ohio, which top the linked study, but are at the bottom of the NAWBO study.

I wonder what they define as entrepreneur, and I wonder what the employment statistics are in these states for women as non-entrepreneurs.

I know a lot of "business owners" in Ohio that are doing etsy stores, or in worst case MLM stuff. Both market heavily towards women as Ohio doesn't have great professional opportunities for women. Most companies they worked for had little to no maternity leave, so it was a matter of necessity for their family that they figured out something outside of traditional employment.

MLM is it’s own world of garbage, but what’s wrong having an Etsy store? How does that make you less of a “business owner”?

I would very much consider someone with an Etsy store an entrepreneur, doubly so if they can sustain themselves from that channel alone.

Most entrepreneurs don’t get 8-figure exits.

I didn't say it made them less of a business owner.. though I don't know any that sustain themselves from that alone.

I was saying a lot of people I know do these things even though they'd rather have a job as an employee. So I was curious what the employment stats for women were in these areas and if they'd confirm this hypothesis.

But my coments on second read probably are my own misunderstanding.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact