December 3, 2018

It pays to encourage young women to be entrepreneurs

A new report from Girls With Impact shows the power girls can make when they take the lead in business and entrepreneurship.

The next generation of women are eager to learn the skills to thrive in the business world. A new report shows they already are. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

You may have read those stories about the impact of women in business–from a 63 percent higher return to lower corporate risk. But a new study finds that younger women are a winning ingredient in entrepreneurship and business.

For companies, they’re an untapped goldmine of future success and competitive advantage. For parents and educators, the findings are proof that we need to provide real-world business exposure and teach entrepreneurial skills—as early as high school—if we really want them to reach their economic and career potential.

The report, released by the nonprofit Girls With Impact, finds that although women make up just 22 percent of those participating in college venture competitions, they represent a far higher proportion of winning teams. In fact, 51 percent of the ranking teams–those in first, second or third place–had a woman founder. Among the first placed teams, 32 percent had a woman CEO.

Sixteen-year-old Jody Bell, a member of Girls With Impact, joined leaders to discuss the findings of the report, Proving the Power of NextGen Women. “I can guarantee you that there are other high schoolers equally as driven, and if we give them the skills, they will become the future leaders we need right now,” she said. (Watch Jody in this video, 11 minutes in.)

How can you harness NextGen women?

For educators and parents:

  • Provide early entrepreneurship training—This will build her confidence, teach leadership and problem-solving skills, and boost her risk-taking mentality required in the Future of Work.
  • Turn after-school into practical hands-on opportunities—Programs where she executes on an idea and build on her classroom learning will boost college and career success

For employers:

  • Include NextGen women on teams—It’s not enough to have women in your firm; be sure they’re involved in innovation and meetings. They want purpose in their jobs. If you’re an investor, remember this: 30 percent of women-led companies target growth rates of more than 15 percent in the next 12 months vs. just 5 percent of male-led firms.
  • Invest in STEEM, not just STEM—STEM creates the doers, but the extra “E” for entrepreneurship will ensure the development of leaders with the mindset to navigate in the Future of Work.

  • Boost your ROI—A whopping 60 percent of companies say new hires lack problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as those soft, professional skills such as writing emails or presenting an idea. Rather than “shooting from the hip” in recruiting efforts, consider partnering with organizations that reach younger workers, building a talent pipeline with the skills companies need.

As professor David Noble at UConn says: “This is another nail in the business gender coffin. Companies that fail to turn to the next generation will miss out—pure and simple.”

Download the full report: Proving the Power of NextGen Women, made possible by EY’s People Advisory Services.

Girls With Impact

Jennifer Openshaw

CEO of Girls With Impact

Jennifer Openshaw, a nationally known financial innovator and commentator seen on Oprah and CNN, is CEO of Girls With Impact, the nation’s only tech-enabled mini-MBA turning teens into tomorrow’s CEOs and entrepreneurs. To partner, go here. Watch Academy in Action.