Encouraging Girls’ Entrepreneurship

The social and emotional qualities that lead to successful entrepreneurship, like curiosity, confidence, and innovation, are also crucial for all types of academic and career success. That’s because entrepreneurs take an idea, run with it, and turn it into action—an essential life skill as well as an important business skill. Building girls’ “entrepreneurial mindset” prepares them for workforce readiness no matter where they go or what they decide to do.

Although women often adopt new technologies early, they are rarely in their infancy. If technological developments are almost entirely led by men, then half of society is not represented in the development process. It is also widely believed that a more diverse ecosystem leads to better products and services, provides access to new and different experiences, and significantly improves the work environment and the productivity of the business and talent. In addition, young girls’ interest and enthusiasm for digital entrepreneurship and leadership is often compromised over time by stereotypes, cultural discouragement, peer pressure and lack of inspiration and role models. role, resulting in a lack of confidence to engage in entrepreneurship, leadership and technology.

Encouraging Girls’ Entrepreneurship

EIT Woman Award

In 2018, the EIT introduced a new EIT awards category for women innovators. The EIT Woman Award recognises the outstanding achievements of women entrepreneurs and leaders from our Innovation Communities.

Project goals of EIT

The specific goals we aim to achieve in collaboration with our partners are the following.

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  • Promote positive role models and enhancing digital and entrepreneurship skills among girls that help to tackle the gender gap and boost female participation in science, technology and business
  • Inspire female students to consider careers in technology, entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Organise a series of workshops on digital and entrepreneurial skills throughout Europe for girls in primary and secondary education (up to 20 000 girls by the end of 2020), with a particular focus on EIT RIS countries.
  • Active participation in key Women Leadership and Entrepreneurship events across Europe.
  • Participation and sharing of content with select online women leadership and entrepreneurship platforms
  • The dissemination of profiles of ‘Inspirational EIT Community Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs’
  • Leverage Women Investors network at a European Level and connect them to EIT Innovation Communities and EIT Alumni investment dealflow
  • The EIT Woman Award
  • Support and promote the Women @ EIT initiative

For girls, a few key stumbling blocks emerge when they consider entering the entrepreneurship space:

1. Not knowing where to start. This is the number-one barrier girls cite (34%).

2. Entrepreneurship not being worth the risk/fear of failure. Despite expressing comfort with failure, 29% of girls list it as a barrier (being afraid to fail or being afraid to try something new and different). And about one in three girls agree that entrepreneurship is not worth the stress or the risk of failure, while 36% of girls want help overcoming a fear of failure.

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3. Perception of an uphill battle because of their gender. Three in four girls believe they would have to work harder to succeed in entrepreneurship roles because of their gender. Other gender assumptions are also at play; while most girls agree that men and women are equally capable of being the CEO of a company or starting their own business, many believe that men are more likely than women to actually do it. This is particularly important given research that suggests that stereotypes depicting entrepreneurs as men may deter girls and women from considering this career path.15 For example, we often celebrate male entrepreneurs (e.g., Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, etc.) without also highlighting women’s achievements. As girls get older, not only does their interest in being an entrepreneur decrease slightly (85% of older girls ages 14–17 vs. 91% of younger girls ages 8–10), but they are also less likely to feel like society supports women in entrepreneurship.

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