Imagine a successful businessperson. Society conditions you to see an older, white male in a professional suit, right? Well, the world doesn’t work this way anymore. The future is female. Female entrepreneurs are more ambitious and successful than their male counterparts. Women’s businesses have 13 percent higher revenue, according to Fortune. And a little over a third of these female entrepreneurs are millennials. So why doesn’t society discuss or celebrate these talented women? From high admittance of women into business schools to clubs galore, these schools encourage aspiring women entrepreneurs to conquer the world.
Check out these 10 colleges that help their female entrepreneurs thrive.
Cornell is almost 50 percent women. It fosters these future #bosswomen through inclusive clubs and organizations such as the Business Inclusion and Diversity Program. Cornell’s Society for Women in Business, the largest undergraduate organization for women in business at the school, hosts panels, events and speakers including a former Nike Women’s Director. “In SWIB, we pair upperclassmen with underclassmen in our mentor/mentee program. She…was always one of my biggest supporters,” said senior Kelly Jahnsen, President of the Society for Women in Business. “Women empowering women comes in all forms, but for me, it was found in [my] informal mentors.” Cornell’s Emerging Leaders Program encourages undergraduate students to learn how to work as a team, speak in front of a crowd and present research professionally. Teams for this program have included looking at interest rates, the effect of climate change on valuation and stocks, as well as fashion technology.
UVA represents major #goals for inclusivity. McIntire School of Commerce at UVA offers undergraduate students both an entrepreneurship minor and track. Female-identifying students in the school take part in the Smart Woman Securities at the University of Virginia, as well as the Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development. Notably, The McIntire School offers Affinity Groups for its students, focusing on different minority groups, including students of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Within these Affinity Groups lies the Women’s Business Forum, which presents all students with the opportunity to talk about gender-related issues in and out of the workforce. “Specifically in the McIntire School of Commerce, I have seen a really big push in empowering women, and even just any minority group in general,” said senior Elaine Koo, President of the Women’s Business Forum. “The landscape is changing and the commerce school is responding to the changing landscape…they are recognizing the needs of our students and looking for different ways to support them.”
The fact that the student population at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is only a little over a third female doesn’t stop them. Women in the business school have taken charge and fill 41 percent of leadership roles within the Ross community through clubs and organizations. Fifty-six percent of the professional clubs are led by women, and 42 percent of clubs are led or co-led by women. “I think it is equally common to see different women take charge. I have many female teachers and also know many female friends who have leadership roles in clubs,” said freshman Rebecca Hebert. The Ross School of Business aims to embody an inclusive environment through its Office of Diversity, which supports the Michigan Business Women organization. UMich is also a member of the Forté Foundation, a national organization made up of business schools and companies across the nation dedicated to guiding women to top leadership positions.
Want more than a generic business degree? Then Georgetown is the place to be. Not only does Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business offer an undergraduate business degree, but it also has an Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fellows Program. It fosters an entrepreneurial spirit by guiding students into their personal entrepreneurial careers. They just need to complete certain intro-level prerequisite courses (like Foundations of Entrepreneurship and accounting) in order to join. More than half of Georgetown’s campus is female, so the business school takes an extra step to create a welcoming environment through the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Institute. GUWLI aims to critically research and advance gender-intelligent leadership. GUWLI gives women the opportunity to listen to panels, travel to conferences and network with real-life professionals ready to help you succeed.
6. Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is one of the Seven Sister Colleges, which only accept female students. The college constantly hosts open panels, lectures and discussions on topics such as race and how it plays a role in different communities. They also focus strongly on the many Cultural Centers the students can call home, like the Asian Center for Empowerment, The Betty Shabazz Cultural Center for students of African descent or The Jeannette Marks House for the LGBTQIA+ community. These cultural centers strive to serve as a support community for marginalized groups and an education tool for those in the college. Mount Holyoke also offers an Entrepreneurship, Organizations and Society minor, as well as the Women in Business organization. Walking these halls means you’ll walk where trail-blazing alumni like CEO and Director of the American Film Institute Jean Picker Firstenberg and CEO of Citibank Barbara Desoer.
Women at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business can put all their energy in entrepreneurship by choosing to concentrate in it. And this university takes it a step further by fostering an environment in which the women are heard and valued. The business students participate in events throughout the year, such as an annual etiquette dinner for the freshmen, Wednesday Night Insights, and Waffle, Coffee and Professor. Even more so, women in the business school can take part in the Tepper Women in Business Club, created to help women thrive through aspects such as support, education and empowerment. When applying, make sure to check out Women’s Visit Day, a day when Tepper hosts promising female applicants, connecting them with influential students, faculty and organizations. Not only does this allow potential students to become more comfortable with the school itself, but it also familiarizes them with their potential professors. Walking these halls will put you in the same shoes as successful entrepreneur Cindy Padnos. She’s the founder and Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures, an early venture-capital firm focused on assisting start up software development companies.
Looking at the school’s leaders tells you that it values female leadership. “The University of Washington is unique in that it has both a female President as well as a female Athletic Director,” said sophomore Kasia Omilian, Director of Administration for Undergraduate Women in Business at UW. Students can choose an Entrepreneurship Option, and non-business students can choose an entrepreneurship minor. Students from all majors can also apply to participate in the competitive Lavin Entrepreneurship Program that lasts for three to four years. Looking for another great business organization, but only for female-identifying students? The Undergraduate Women in Business at UW provides just that. “[The Undergraduate Women in Business at UW] is a unique organization that I have found to be extremely supportive in aiding me toward my long term goal, but also giving me a smaller group of people to interact with on a weekly basis at such a large university,” said Omilian. The Foster School of Business aims to plant those seeds early by hosting female junior and senior high school students for a three-day summer Women’s Leadership Summit.
MIT is actively destroying the stereotype that women can’t rock STEM majors. Over half of the population is female. The Sloan School of Management at MIT offers three different tracks for undergraduate students: Management, Business Analytics and Finance with entrepreneurship being an interest within each of them. MIT truly values its female entrepreneurs through many of the clubs and organizations it offers on campus such as the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and the Sloan Women in Management Organization. The school even hosts the MIT Sloan Global Women’s Conference in New York City each year, inviting women to learn alongside a community of women making a difference in the world right now. Past speakers include MIT alumnae Martha Amram PhD ’87, the founder and CEO of WattzOn and MIT Professor Fiona Murray. Among MIT alumni is Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of ZipCar, a large carsharing service. Without her, college students everywhere would have no way to get around. Thanks for making our lives easier, Chase.
2. Smith College
Talk about empowering women. What about a school that only focuses on females? One of the Seven Sister Colleges, this all woman’s college in the Boston area gives female entrepreneurs a once in a lifetime experience. The Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, named after the college’s first female president, encourages a community that allows women to test their original ideas while fostering research and education. They also develop creative problem solving, business and entrepreneurial skills. Throughout the year, the center holds programs and events such as speakers and workshops as well as the Draper Competition, the Global Financial Institutions Concentration and the University Innovation Fellows program.
1. Babson College
You don’t have to graduate to start your own business. At the end of your freshman year at Babson College, you will have done just that. Babson’s entire undergraduate curriculum focuses on teaching students to become entrepreneurial leaders to make social change through Entrepreneurial Thought and Action. But Babson still offers concentrations in Entrepreneurship and in Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design. “There are many ways to get involved, whether it be through clubs or student government. Class participation is important at Babson, and in my experience, women have been just as active in participation as men,” said Julia Ferrara, a freshman with an Entrepreneurship concentration. With over half of the undergraduate population being women, Babson ensures a strong presence of female empowerment on the campus. Babson cherishes their Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, CWEL, which aims to foster gender equality in the business world. How do they achieve this? Students can take part in their mentorship program, connecting with influential women currently working in the field. They can also apply to be one of 20 women each year to build an entrepreneurial project with the Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab.
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