When you hear the word entrepreneur, your first thought might be billionaires sending rockets into space – be it Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.
What do these entrepreneurs, who have become practically household names, have in common? Besides the fact that they’re all male, the world they inhabit seems steeped in showmanship, competitiveness, and over-the-top confidence.
Perhaps the perception that innovation is a male-dominated field has discouraged women from fully embracing entrepreneurship. Studies have shown that only 11.8% of American inventors are women. The same disparity is also observed in the sciences. Women make up only 7-13% of National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health (NIH) small business grant recipients.
Women who decide to become entrepreneurs face daunting challenges. They start businesses with 50% less money and raise 66% less capital than their male counterparts, said Jesse Goodwin, Ph.D., chief innovation officer at MUSC.
“Entrepreneurship is an engine to transform something from a simple brilliant idea into a product or a company that generates a beneficial impact. (…) Considering that half of the population of this country are women, if the women don’t participate fully, we’re missing out on important opportunities.
— Jesse Goodwin, Ph.D.
A new MUSC initiative – STEM-Coaching and Resources for Entrepreneurial Women (CREW) – will begin tackling gender inequality in entrepreneurship with funds from a $2.4 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. With this funding, STEM-CREW will provide mentoring, coaching, and training opportunities to increase the number of women, especially women from underserved minorities, who not only become entrepreneurs, but remain engaged in entrepreneurial activities. throughout their career.
The initiative will be led by Carol Feghali-Bostwick, Ph.D., Kitty Trask Holt Chair in Scleroderma Research and Director of the Advancement, Recruitment and Retention of Women (ARROW) Program at MUSC, which aims to advance the careers of women scientists. Feghali-Bostwick is an entrepreneur herself, having identified an anti-fibrotic peptide that was licensed by a company.
“Women generally don’t promote themselves and their science as much as men. And some may lack mentors. If they don’t see other women as role models and mentors in the world of entrepreneurship, they might think it’s not possible for them to make it. We need more women out there as role models to show them it’s doable.
— Carol Feghali-Bostwick, Ph.D.
In addition to Goodwin, other STEM-CREW researchers include Angela Passarelli, Ph.D., Tammy Loucks, DrPHand Jillian Harvey, Ph.D. Passarelli, Associate Professor of Management at Charleston College Business School and Director of Research at Coaching Institute at McLean/Harvard Medical School, will serve as Director of Coaching. Loucks, Science Development Officer for the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute at MUSC, will be the Director of Communications. Harvey, a professor at MUSC College of Health Professions, will oversee the evaluation of the program. Rachel Simmons will be the program coordinator.
Are we all paying a price for iniquity?
MUSC is one of the few institutions to track the number of women who engage in entrepreneurial activities, and the figures reflect the disparity observed at the national level. Of MUSC’s more than 800 inventors, only 33% are women and 23% are female scientists.
“Entrepreneurship is an engine to take something from a simple brilliant idea to a product or business that generates beneficial impact,” Goodwin said. This impact not only includes improved health outcomes, but also the growth of the knowledge economy and the creation of well-paying STEM jobs, she added.
Gender inequality could hamper the knowledge economy, Goodwin explained. “Considering that half the population of this country are women, if women are not fully participating, we are missing out on important opportunities,” she said.
Why aren’t more women becoming entrepreneurs?
Unfamiliar with the details of turning an idea into a product, some women fear the perceived risk. However, other factors likely play a role in deterring women from becoming entrepreneurs, Feghali-Bostwick said.
“Maybe it’s risk aversion, or maybe a lot of women don’t like competition at this level,” she said. “Women generally don’t promote themselves and their science as much as men. And some may lack mentors. If they don’t see other women as role models and mentors in the world of entrepreneurship, they might think it’s not possible for them to make it. We need more women out there as role models to show them it’s doable.
How will STEM-CREW increase the number of female entrepreneurs?
Because women often lack entrepreneurial role models, STEM-CREW will match interns with successful biomedical entrepreneurs. These mentors will share the wisdom they’ve gained from navigating the transition from researcher to inventor and building their own businesses. They will familiarize them with the procedural aspects of the innovation journey, helping to alleviate any perceived risk anxiety.
“Coaching offers a confidential relationship, dedicated time and a skilled thinking partner that helps aspiring entrepreneurs step back from their day-to-day responsibilities to explore what they most want to achieve, who they are, what makes them prevents and how to navigate a path to achieve their goals.
— Angela Passarelli, Ph.D.
But STEM-CREW will then go further and associate trainees with professional coaches for regular individual sessions. Executive coaching is common in the corporate world, where it helps leaders build their effectiveness and resilience, but remains underutilized in the academic world.
Feghali-Bostwick believes coaching is one of the most innovative aspects of the initiative and is grateful to have Passarelli, a coaching leader, on board.
“Coaching makes training four times more effective,” Feghali-Bostwick said. “With mentoring, you have role models who have done that and are showing you the way, but they’re usually showing you the way they’ve done it. In contrast, coaching guides you to find your own answers on how to do this. It promotes self-efficacy.”
It was Passarelli’s idea to bolster the grant application by enhancing mentorship with coaching, as she knew it provided additional benefits for aspiring women entrepreneurs.
“Coaching offers a confidential relationship, dedicated time and a skilled thinking partner that helps aspiring entrepreneurs step back from their day-to-day responsibilities to explore what they most want to achieve, who they are, what makes them prevents and how to navigate a way to achieve their goals,” Passarelli said.
Coaching is particularly crucial when “the experience of mentors differs from that of their protégés,” she explains.
“Quite frankly, what works for a man doesn’t always work for a woman,” she said.
In addition to regular meetings with their coaches and mentors, interns will take a newly created online entrepreneurship course from the College of Graduate Studies and receive lay communication training that will help them learn how to make an effective pitch to potential investors. . STEM-CREW will also host a quarterly speaker series, featuring successful entrepreneurs in the state and beyond, and hold an annual conference in Charleston.
Who is eligible for STEM-CREW?
Each year, STEM-CREW will accept 20 senior postdoctoral fellows or junior faculty into the program. Applications are encouraged from any institution in South Carolina, as most activities and offers can be completed online. As one of STEM-CREW’s goals is to increase the number of female entrepreneurs from underrepresented minorities, applications from historically black colleges and universities are especially welcome. As the program matures, applicants will also be accepted by institutions in other states in the region eligible for Institutional Development Fellowships (IDeAs) as they have historically benefited from low levels of NIH funding.
“For us to have this in South Carolina and make it available to other IDeA states, I think it speaks to the whole concept that MUSC has for innovation, impact and influence. It fits perfectly into this overall mission that we have as an institution and really speaks to the role that we have for the state.
— Tammy Loucks, DrPH
“For us to have this in South Carolina and make it available to other IDeA states, I think that reflects the whole concept that MUSC has for innovation, impact and influence,” Loucks said. . “It fits perfectly into this overall mission that we have as an institution and really speaks to the role that we have for the state.”
Starting in its third year, STEM-CREW will select five trainees each year to be trained as coaches themselves. These women can then “pay it forward” to other women in their own facilities, helping to increase the number of women who will benefit from the program.
“I want potential candidates to know that they will not only get training and an entrepreneurial spirit to support their career development, but now have the opportunity to turn around and become themselves. mentors and coaches,” Feghali-Bostwick said.
This is Goodwin’s favorite part of the program.
“As well as loving that this program is designed by women for women, I love that it aims to support a cohort of women on this path, which will in turn create a set of role models for future women entrepreneurs,” she said.
How to apply for STEM-CREW?
The STEM-CREW program will accept applications until November 30. To apply, please visit https://redcap.link/crewprogram. Please direct all inquiries to email@example.com. Those accepted for the program will be notified by December and participation will begin in January 2023.
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