The federal government has yet to achieve its goal of setting aside 5% of federal contracts for women-owned businesses. Last year, for example, women-owned businesses got $15.4 billion worth of federal contracts, about 4% of the total. The Obama administration has tweaked contracting rules in an attempt to fix the problem, but lower growth rates for women-owned firms may also be a factor. "Women small business owners are actually starting businesses at a higher rate than men, but are reaching the $1 million [revenue] mark at a much lower percentage," said Dayna De Simone of American Express.

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