The findings are made in the 2017 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, an annual study of more than 1,000 small business owners.

It found that women in the small business community see gender equality in the workplace on the horizon, with a majority believing that women will match or exceed men in a number of areas.

The report found 80% of female entrepreneurs expect greater or equal representation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields compared to men.

Also, 68% believe women will match or exceed men in executive leadership or C-suite role representation, with an equal proportion saying there will be more women-owned small businesses compared to those owned by men and that wages will reach parity with male colleagues.

The report added that women entrepreneurs also believe there will be greater support for state-enacted paid maternity leave policies over the next 20 years.

The vast majority (71%) of women business owners believe that at least 25 states will have such a policy within the next two decades. As of August 2017, five states and the District of Columbia have a paid maternity leave policy in place or planned to take effect.

Sharon Miller, head of the small business division of Bank of America, said: “Women entrepreneurs have articulated an inspiring vision for the small business community over the next 20 years – one of equal pay, leadership opportunities and greater support for those with families.

“Within the context of a growing economy, this bodes incredibly well for the future of women in business.”

The Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight survey was conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications among a national sample of 1,022 small business owners, of which 375 were women.