Like strutting peacocks, Democrats and Republicans have been displaying their interest in women's issues to attract votes. The most dramatic gesture was Democrat Walter F. Mondale's selection of Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) as his Vice-Presidential running mate. On the legislative floor, entrepreneurship has become a platform for this performance.
No sooner had President Reagan appointed the last member of his Advisory Commission on Women's Business Ownership last spring than the House Committee on Small Business, chaired by Rep. Parren Mitchell (D-Md.), favorably reported a bill for a similar commission. Called the National Commission on Women's Small Business Ownership, the group would be a nine-member congressional committee appointed by the President and Congress to study the state of entrepreneurship among women.
The bill certainly casts a flattering light on the 85 sponsors, of whom all but 5 are Democrats. But critics say it is unclear what the new commission could accomplish for women business owners that cannot already be handled by Reagan's advisory commission or the Office of Women's Business Enterprise of the Small Business Association.
Brenda Alford, national president of the American Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs, points out that nearly a dozen such studies -- including the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, Women in Business -- have been presented to the White House over the past decade, without much result.
"We find little evidence that previous recommendations have been acted upon or effected any change," Alford says. "A better use of limited funds would be an implementation recommendation based on studies previously conducted rather than the study of the same issues." the bill's sponsors, disagrees with Alford. "It's important that the legislative branch have a reliable source of information, coordinated with the executive branch, on the promising nature of women's business enterprise," asserts Boggs, adding, "A National Commission on Women Business Ownership will help to determine who these present and would-be entrepreneurs are, what their problems are, and how we can help to stimulate their success."