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Proceedings of a Workshop IN BRIEF December 2021 OVERCOMING STRUCTURAL BARRIERS FOR WOMEN IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief While there has been growth in the number of women entrepreneurs in the United States in recent years, the percent- age of womenâparticularly women of colorâwho decide to pursue an entrepreneurial career continues to be signifi- cantly lower than that of men. Entrepreneurship is a crucial enterprise responsible for driving innovation and economic growth, and increasing the representation of women, especially in STEM and medical (STEMM)1 industries, is critical to ensuring the nationâs overall health, economic well-being, and global competitiveness. On June 21â22, 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Acad- emies) held a virtual workshop to explore the current structural barriers (i.e., policies, practices, or other norms that systematically perpetuate gender disparities) driving the underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs across STEMM industries and strategies to overcome these barriers. Participants included representatives from a variety of sectors, in- cluding higher education, government, nonprofits, and industry, as well as researchers, evaluators, inventors, mentors, consultants, and policy analysts, among others. The workshop was planned by an expert committee that included Carol Dahl, Lemelson Foundation; Angela Belcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Jaime Curtis-Fisk, Dow Chemical Company; Jorge Guzman, Co- lumbia Business School; and the committee chair, Gilda Barabino, Olin College of Engineering. The committee worked during several months to consider the key questions and intellectual themes the events proceedings would address and identified expert speakers. The workshop proceedings focused on women entrepreneurs who are pursuing high-growth ventures in STEM and medical industries given that (1) STEMM technology and innovation are broadly considered drivers of social and economic growth, and (2) women entrepreneurs in STEMM industries face compounded structural barriers due to the gender biases and systemic disadvantages in STEMM fields and in entrepreneurship more broadly.2 Thus, the two-day workshop brought together experts and leaders to discuss promising practices for ad- vancing aspiring and current women entrepreneurs in STEMM, and to provide insights on how stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem can address structural barriers facing women entrepreneursâespecially women of color. While the speakers highlighted a subset of existing programs to advance women entrepreneurs, they tended to focus their re- marks on broad, cross-cutting themes and strategies that can support women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in STEMM fields. This Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief provides a high-level summary of the workshop discussion, including some of the actions identified by participants to overcome structural barriers facing women entrepreneurs.3 1 The acronym âSTEMMâ is used when referring to ideas or comments associated with the workshop; however, when referring to research presentations or panel sessions, we use the terminology that was discussed, whether it is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math- ematics), STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), or STEMM. 2 Kuschel, K., K. Ettl, C. DÃaz-GarcÃa, and G. Agnete Alsos. 2020. Stemming the gender gap in STEM entrepreneurshipâinsights into womenâs entrepreneurship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.Â International Entrepreneurship Management JournalÂ 16:1â15. 3 For workshop session recordings, agenda, and other materials including a list of shared workshop-related resources, see https://www.nation- alacademies.org/event/06-21-2021/overcoming-structural-barriers-for-women-in-entrepreneurship-a-workshop-multi-day-event.
WELCOME AND GOALS FOR THE WORKSHOP Gilda Barabino, Olin College of Engineering, and committee chair, welcomed participants and provided context for the workshop. She first highlighted current data that demonstrated the need for the greater participation of women, including women of color, in entrepreneurship and innovation. Women in entrepreneurship are not being funded or receiving patents at the rates of men. Women received only 2 percent of all venture capital funding in 2019; the rate drops to 0.7 percent for women of color.4,5 Barabino noted that structural barriers are driving these low rates of participation, including diminished access to capital, implicit and explicit bias, and a lack of role models and mentors, among other challenges. These barriers are amplified and more complex for women in STEMM fields and are particularly magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Barabino explained that the current workshop was designed to address not only the current state of knowledge of the factors that contribute to womenâs underrepresentation in entrepreneurship, but also to delve into actionable solutions to structural barriers. The lessons learned from this workshop will inform a growing body of initiatives on the under- representation of women in entrepreneurship and will be a major priority for the Committee on Women in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine moving forward. CURRENT LANDSCAPE FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN STEM AND MEDICAL INDUSTRIES Fiona Murray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), provided an overview of the current landscape of women entrepreneurs in STEMM. She began by defining innovation as the âprocess of taking ideas from inception to impact,â noting that the journey to innovation engages many partiesâentrepreneurs, higher education institutions, corporate companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. There is an economic imperative for diversity and inclusion in the innovation economy, Murray said. Research indicates that more gender diverse teams incorporate more sources of information when developing solutions, yield- ing better research outcomes.6 More diverse leadership also leads to higher rates of performance in innovation.7 In data from MassChallenge startups, companies founded by women delivered more than two times the revenue per dollar invested than those founded by men. Women in decision-making roles also fared better: of all U.S. venture capital firms that scored a top-quartile fund between 2009 and 2018, nearly 70 percent had women in decision-making roles.8 Despite these compelling data, there is a persistent gender gap in the representation of inventors and entre- preneurs. In fact, at the current rate it will take about 139 years to reach gender parity among inventors in the U.S.9 Further, the percent of female new inventors, as measured by patents granted, is not rising as fast as the number of STEM degrees earned by women (see Figure 1). Additionally, Murray added, only 11 percent of venture capital deals in 2019 went to startups led by female CEOs.10 Only 2 percent of venture funding went to women founders, and even lessâ1 percentâwent to African American and Latinx women founders. Systemic barriers are responsible for this dis- parity, which begins as early as elementary school educational experiences (e.g., implicit/explicit biases that discourage girlsâ participation and belonging in STEMM). 4 PitchBook. 2021. The US VC Female Founders Dashboard. Available: https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/the-vc-female-founders-dash- board. 5 ProjectDiane. 2020. The State of Black and Latinx Women Founders. Available: https://www.projectdiane.com. 6 Apesteguia, J., G. Azmat, and N. Iriberri. 2012. The impact of gender composition on team performance and decision-making: Evidence from the Field. Management Science 58(1):78-93. Joshi, A. 2014. By Whom and When Is Womenâs Expertise Recognized? The Interactive Effects of Gender and Education in Science and Engi- neering Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly 59(2):202-239. Joshi, A., and A.P. Knight. 2015. Who defers to whom and why? Dual pathways linking demographic differences and dyadic deference to team effectiveness. Academy of Management Journal 58(1): 59-84 7 McKinsey and Company. 2020. How diversity and inclusion matter. Available: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and- inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters. Post, C. and K. Byron. 2015. Women on boards and firm financial performance: A meta-analysis. Academy of Management Journal 58(5):1546â 1571. 8 MassChallenge. 2019. Women-Owned Startups Deliver Twice as Much Per Dollar Invested as Those Founded by Men. Available: https:// masschallenge.org/article/report-women-owned-startups-deliver-twice-much-dollar-invested-those-founded-men. 9 Delgado, M. and F. Murray. 2021 Mapping the Regions, organizations and individuals that drive inclusion in the innovation economy, NBER Working Paper. 10 In the context of this Proceedings-in Brief, âwomenâ are defined as those who identify as women or are viewed by others as women (or female in the case of girls). However, when referring to research presentations, we use the presentersâ terminology to maintain consistency with their reported research and findings. 2
50% US % Female STEM BS Degree (t-5, t) 45% US % Female STEM PhDs (t-5, t) US % Female New Inventors US % Female Inventors 40% 37.0% 35% 35.4% 35.0% 30% 25% 25.0% 20% 15% 14.3% 10% 11.1% 10.0% 5% 8.0% 0% 2000 2005 2010 2015 U.S. Economy Annual Change Years to Parity % FBS 0.04%** (117, 317, +1,000) % FPhDs 0.71%** (19, 21, 23) ** % FNIs 0.26% (117, 139, 171) ** % FIs 0.15% (235, 266, 307) FIGURE 1 Percentage of females with STEM Ph.Ds vs. percentage of female new inventors in the U.S. SOURCE: Fiona Murray (2021). Workshop Presentation. The low participation of women in entrepreneurship further exacerbates the issue of underrepresentation. Fewer leads to fewer visible role models and contributes to perceptions among women and investors that there is an inherent âlack of fitâ with an entrepreneurial career for women. These factors can drive lower engagement by women to pursue entrepreneurial careers and further reinforce existing biases in the innovation ecosystem about what an en- trepreneur should look like. Bias poses a particular barrier to women entrepreneurs in accessing venture capital. Murray highlighted a study that indicated that male and female entrepreneurs are asked different questions by venture capital firms, and that it affects how much funding they receive. Men are asked promotion questions, such as âhow will this succeed?â Women, however, are asked prevention questions, such as âhow will you fail?â11 To overcome systemic barriers for women in innovation and entrepreneurship, Murray said there is a need to actively highlight diverse innovators and entrepreneurs (i.e., we must be consciously inclusive). Another key point was to diversify investment decision-makers to broaden the network of entrepreneurs considered for venture funding. More than 65 percent of venture capital funds do not have a single female partner.12 Murray also emphasized that diversifying innovation decision-makers leads to more inclusive investment decisions (e.g., studies show that female venture capital partners are more likely to fund startups with at least one female founder, and even more likely to fund startups with fe- male CEOs). In addition to changing who makes the investment decisions, Murray stressed that investors need training to adapt their decision-making processes as their questions can be subject to unintended bias. Workshop participants inquired about mechanisms for change in organizational climate to support an in- crease in the number of women in entrepreneurship. Murray cited strong commitment from leadership, noting that a movement toward a consciously inclusive culture requires long-term transformation. Relatedly, she underscored that compelling experimental data highlighting systemic barriers and the economic arguments for promoting inclusion can also support changes in organizational climate. Murray noted that male allies can play an important role in increas- ing womenâs participation by supporting efforts to be consciously inclusive and connecting women to people in their networks. Workshop participants also asked about how nonprofit leaders can cultivate a supportive ecosystem for 11 Kanze, D., L. Huang, M.A. Conley, and E.T. Higgins. 2018. We ask men to win and women not to lose: Closing the gender gap in startup funding.Â Academy of Management JournalÂ 61(2):586-614. 12 Kostka, P. 2020. More Women Became VC Partners Than Ever Before In 2019 But 65% of Venture Firms Still Have Zero Female Partners. https:// medium.com/allraise/more-women-became-vc-partners-than-ever-before-in-2019-39cc6cb86955. 3
female- and minority-led entrepreneurship. Murray emphasized the major role of non-profit organizations, as they have the capacity to experiment with new models or practices for building diverse and inclusive systems and spreading these novel insights in different parts of the innovation economy. JOURNEYS TO INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP Marie Harton, the National Academies, moderated a discussion with Sanna Gaspard, Rubitection, and Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice University, about their experiences becoming entrepreneurs in the medical technology field, including key hurdles they encountered along the way. Richards-Kortum discussed challenges related to commercializing technologies in unproven markets. The need among under-resourced populations is high, but the ability to pay for uncertain technologies is lowâa critical barrier to achieving global health equity. Gaspard added that many in academia do not see the value in translational research (i.e., a field of research that moves basic science discoveries into practice that directly benefit human health and soci- ety), making it challenging to receive financial support. Commercialization happens at the margins in academic jobs, Richards-Kortum said: one is evaluated on research productivity, teaching, and service work, but innovation happens separately. On the industry side, Gaspard described the lack of scientific expertise of investors and the need to build investorsâ knowledge particularly in technological research areas. Gaspard and Richards-Kortum discussed the significant structural barriers facing women, especially women of color, in participating in entrepreneurship. These barriers are often socioeconomic, said Gaspard; for example, schools in under-represented areas may not offer STEM courses, which may limit girlsâ exposure to science at an early age. Richards-Kortum said that women, particularly women of color, are often asked to carry a larger share of service work in academia, limiting their capacity to take on entrepreneurship activities. For women with young children, there are also many competing demands that can interfere with commercialization. Richards-Kortum observed that having access to on-site affordable day care at the institutions where she works has made a tremendous difference in her ability to man- age and participate in innovation and commercialization activities, and she noted the importance of broadening access to these services. Richards-Kortum said that it is critical to acknowledge the role of racism and gender bias in limiting womenâs participation in entrepreneurship. Stevens et al. (2021)13 examined award rates for Black researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and found that this group had to work twice as hard to receive funding as their white coun- terparts, creating an additional barrier to engaging in commercialization activities. Regarding gender bias, Oliveira et al. (2019)14 found that of the median size grants awarded at NIH, only 25 percent were awarded to women. Until we address broader issues of racism and gender bias, womenâs participation in entrepreneurship will continue to be limited, Richards-Kortum said. On a related point, Gaspard noted her difficulty in fundraising due to the common perception that women and minorities are too risky for investment. As an example, Gaspard pointed out the difference in outcomes when she is pitching in a competition with investors serving as competition judges versus to an actual investment group. âI will win the competition, and the investors will say âno thank you, youâre too early.ââ She said that the different outcomes can be attributed to the subjective evaluation in investment decision-making processes (i.e., real-world investors are not required to complete an objective scoring process and explain their ratings like competition judges). To attract more women in entrepreneurship, Richards-Kortum recommended highlighting the role of science and engineering in improving lives and equity in public health. Greater access to mentorship and funding are also critically needed. Richards-Kortum noted that faculty with tenure (e.g., full professors) have opportunities to pursue leadership roles and give back to their scientific fields; however, there are currently no structured mentoring programs for senior facultyâa point of intervention that can have high impact on creating accountable leaders and supporting participation in translational research. Gaspard added that role models and mentors are needed for pursuing transla- tional research and navigating the nuanced processes to access capital from investors. In addition, Gaspard noted that early seed funding is a crucial resource that is needed when Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) funding is too restrictive to support rapid business growth and technology development. 13Stevens K.R., K.S. Masters, P.I. Imoukhuede, et al. 2021. Fund Black scientists. Cell. 2021 184(3):561-565. 14 Oliveira D.F.M, Y. Ma, T.K. Woodruff, and B. Uzzi. 2019. Comparison of National Institutes of Health Grant Amounts to First-Time Male and Female Principal Investigators. JAMA 321(9):898-900. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.21944. 4
SPARKING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN INVENTORS AND ENTREPRENEURS Katherine Jin, Kinnos, and Arlyne Simon, Abby Invents, provided insight into their experiences as young women inventors. Jin began by describing her journey to become the Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer of Kinnos, a company that has developed color-based disinfection technology used in health care settings in the U.S. and globally. The product was initially developed while she was a student at Columbia University, participating in a hackathon where physicians and others in the public health field were working to develop solutions to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. Jin said that while she grew up interested in STEM, sexist notions about who could succeed in these fields initially pushed her away from pursuing them (e.g., a teacher told her that a computer science class that was of interest to her was only for boys). Simon noted that her interest in becoming an entrepreneur began not in her early education, but rather in graduate school, where she worked with immunoassay technology and developed a blood test that detects when can- cer patients reject a bone marrow transplant, resulting in two patents. She was co-founder of a biotech startup, PHA- SIQ, which was funded by SBIR, and closed its doors in 2017. She also participated in the National Science Foundationâs (NSF) I-Corps, a program that uses experiential education to help researchers gain insight into entrepreneurship. She then went on to create Abby Invents, a multicultural childrenâs products company focused on patenting. Simon noted that âtalent is everywhere but awareness and opportunity is not.â This problem is particularly a challenge for women of color who face additional barriers to entrepreneurship, for example, generational funding gaps or the wealth gap between Black and white families and other key supports such as early access to STEM programs. Without access to family support for initial funding, women of color are at a distinct disadvantage in entrepreneurship. As noted by the previous speakers, the lack of role models, mentors, and networking opportunities was also cited by Jin and Simon as barriers to women in entrepreneurship. These supports are needed for women to share les- sons learned and to access funding opportunities. Examples of programs supporting women entrepreneurs include Googleâs Black Founders Fund and NSF I-Corps. The speakers noted that guidance, or perhaps a kind of âroad map,â with information about how to write a patent or grant could help expand opportunities for women. The session con- cluded with reflections from Jin and Simon on the ways in which the system is already biased against people who do not have access, which is particularly true for women who live in under-resourced or rural areas. EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP: AN ACADEMICâS PERSPECTIVE Frances Arnold, California Institute of Technology, opened by acknowledging the essential role of entrepreneurs in translating the enormous investments made in science and technology into goods and services that benefit people all over the world. As an academic, Arnold shared her gratitude for entrepreneurs who took risks and worked incredibly hard to commercialize her inventions, which âmagnified her impact many times over.â Arnold emphasized that aca- demics who want to make an impact with their inventions need to realize this important contribution of entrepreneurs. Reflecting on her background as a woman entrepreneur coming from academia, Arnold noted that her varied experi- ences demonstrate that rather than interfering with her academic work, entrepreneurship greatly enriched it. Women are needed more than ever in entrepreneurship, Arnold said: âwe need the participation of all to solve complex global problems.â Arnold ended with words of encouragement to women pursuing entrepreneurial careers. âI want to encour- age you to jump into entrepreneurship, because the world needs you. It needs your ideas. If weâre going to solve all of the problems we face, we need a lot of people to do it. How do we provide a better life to 8 billion people? We canât do it without you.â STRUCTURAL BARRIERS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS During breakout sessions, workshop presenters, panelists, and participants discussed the range of barriers women face in innovation and entrepreneurship. Several of these barriers are described below, organized by breakout session topic. Early Barriers for Women in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alex Bell, California Policy Lab, University of California, Los Angeles, discussed how socioeconomic factors, race, and gender play a role in who becomes an inventor in the U.S. Bell stated that children from families with higher incomes are 10 times more likely to be inventors, and White children are three times more likely to file a patent than Black 5
children.15 Eighteen percent of those filing a patent are women, he added, and at the âcurrent rate it will take about a century more for inventors to be half male, half female.â16 Bell emphasized the importance of addressing these dispari- ties: âclosing race and gender gaps in innovation could boost GDP.â Cristal Glangchai, VentureLab, noted that the gender gap in entrepreneurship is rooted in early childhood, with girls receiving messages that they are not good at STEM. âFrom the boardroom to the classroom we leave girls behind,â she said. Glangchai added that about 74 percent of elementary school girls indicate interest in STEM,17 but many times they are steered away from it by their counselors, teachers, or parents if they perform poorly in math. Glangchai discussed other barriers such as a lack of role models and a fear of failure. Glangchai noted that societal messages steer girls away from failure (e.g., girls must get straight Aâs to get into a good college and have the perfect resume to get the job). âStudies show that many girls self-select out of things that are risky or hard because they are afraid they might fail and they will not be perfect, so instead of opting in they just donât even try,â she said. Glangchai urged stakeholders to create safe spaces in schools or incubator programs to encourage girls to embrace failure because it is the first attempt at learning and a part of the STEM process. Barriers in the Venture Capital Ecosystem Jorge Guzman, Columbia Business School, Angela Jackson, Portland Seed Fund, and Jessica Patton, 5th Century Partners discussed barriers in the venture capital ecosystem, including a lack of generational wealth creation. As Jackson noted, the appetite for risk and the financial safety net provided by generational wealth are not distributed equally in societyâfinancial support is needed so one can take on risk as a fund manager. Jackson described specific barriers for women, particularly women of color, founding a new fund. Among the barriers Jackson highlighted were: accredited investor requirements to form smaller funds (which disproportionately impacts new fund managers from diverse back- grounds), a lack of networks to establish funds, and high expense fees to manage funds (e.g., auditing fees and deal legal fees) which exclude aspiring fund managers who do not have wealthy backgrounds. Both Patton and Jackson dis- cussed imposter syndrome as a challenge, and Patton noted that the intentional portrayal of venture capital as an elitist club was a barrier to new venture capitalists, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. However, despite these barriers, panelists noted that there are reasons to feel optimistic that progress is being made, based on recent suc- cesses of women in venture capital, including Jackson and Patton, along with other examples, such as the Rising America Fund, which has five females of color as partners. Barriers in Patenting and SBIR/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Workshop panelists discussed structural barriers facing women in patenting and SBIR/STTR programs. Lisa Cook, Michigan State University, noted that women patent one order of magnitude less than their male counterparts. Barriers include a lack of knowledge about patenting, limited diversity in reviewer pools, and few mentors that can help in ap- plying for patents. Additional data on who is patenting are needed, Cook said. Barriers to women applying for and receiving SBIR/STTR grants include limited outreach methods that do not target diverse populations, ages, or non-English speaking women, stated Jenny Servo, DawnBreaker. It is not enough to assume that any outreach effort is enough, and metrics are lacking to examine the effectiveness of outreach efforts. The solicitation submission process is also onerous and lacks transparency. Barriers in Technology Incubators and Accelerators Workshop panelist and moderator, Whitney Lohmeyer, Olin College of Engineering, identified barriers women face in technology incubators and accelerators. Katie Rae, The Engine, noted the problem of women only receiving seed or pre-seed funds (e.g., accelerator funds) because of the biased decision-making of venture capitalists. Emily Reichert, Greentown Labs, and Rae, also discussed how the negative messaging to women about entrepreneurship poses a chal- lenge (e.g., you canât have a family or work/life balance as an entrepreneur or you are not fit to be a CEO). Everyone needs to ask what messages are women hearing and how we counter them with messages that encourage positive 15 Bell, A., R. Chetty, X. Jaravel, N. Petkova, and J. Van Reenen. 2019. Who Becomes an Inventor in America: The Importance of Exposure to Innovation? The Quarterly Journal of Economics 134(2):647â713. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjy028. 16 Ibid. 17 Girl Scout Research Initiative.2012. Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Available: https:// www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsusa/forms-and-documents/about-girl-scouts/research/generation_stem_full_report.pdf. 6
thinking about the rewards rather than just the risks associated with entrepreneurship, Rae said. Maryanna Saenko, Future Ventures, and Rae highlighted the current problems with data collection (e.g. lack of consolidation of current databases) and the under-utilization of data to mitigate structural barriers for women entrepreneurs (e.g., the opacity around compensation in early stage venture capital). To begin addressing structural barriers for women entrepreneurs, Reichert said that a holistic and systematic approach that considers equity rather than just equality is needed to âlevel the playing fieldâ throughout each stage of entrepreneurship starting from universities to founding companies (i.e., scientific training in higher education, accelerators, incubators, and early stage fundraising). Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Women Entrepreneurs Chaitra Vedullapalli, Meylah, Women in Cloud, and Amanda Elam, Babson College, discussed the significant impact of COVID-19 on women entrepreneurs. As Elam noted, a recent survey showed that women entrepreneurs lost about $5 million in business opportunities because of COVID-19. About two-thirds of these women entrepreneurs reported a significant revenue decrease.18 Vedullapalli noted that in addition to loss of revenue, women entrepreneurs faced chal- lenges balancing family and concerns about core funding to support their businesses. Despite these challenges, many women entrepreneurs demonstrated they were able to quickly pivot to save their businesses. Other structural barriers include commonly held stereotypes about women and their aptitude for innova- tion: âif we donât address the structural differences, we wonât be able to counter those stereotypes very easily because peopleâs experiences will confirm them,â Elam said. Stereotypes influence the amount of credibility women have in the market and undermines their confidence about serving in leadership positions. There are real implications for excluding women from these roles. As Elam noted, âIf women and men participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could rise by approximately 3 to 6 percent.â19 In addition to the plenary and breakout discussions, workshop participants offered their thoughts about key barriers facing women in entrepreneurship and innovation. Many of the barriers identified by participants overlapped with thoughts outlined in the previous discussions (see Figure 2). FIGURE 2 Summary of key barriers facing women entrepreneurs identified by workshop participants on Day 1 of the workshop. SOURCE: Word cloud generated through Slido polling technology. Workshop Interactive Session. 18 Diana International Research Institute at Babson College. 2020. Survey: Women Entrepreneurs in a Time of COVID-19. Available: https:// www.babson.edu/media/babson/assets/cwel/DIRI-COVID-19-Pulse-Survey-Results.pdf. 19 Unnikrishnan, S., and C. Blair. 2019. Want to Boost the Global Economy by $5 Trillion? Support Women as Entrepreneurs. Available: https:// www.bcg.com/publications/2019/boost-global-economy-5-trillion-dollar-support-women-entrepreneurs. 7
PARTICIPANT REFLECTIONS: ACTIONS TO OVERCOME STRUCTURAL BARRIERS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS The following are sample participant reflections on actions to overcome structural barriers for women entrepreneurs that were shared throughout the two-day workshop. This section incorporates reflections from speakers during plenary and breakout sessions as well as audience participants who engaged in an interactive polling activity moderated by Marie Harton. Creating Early Access to STEMM and Entrepreneurship Education Several participants, including Carol Dahl, The Lemelson Foundation, Jaime Curtis-Fisk, Dow Chemical Company, and others discussed the need to develop early educational opportunities in entrepreneurship for girls, including expand- ing STEM education. Glangchai said âschool systems were set up like factory models but not built for students to be creative. If we are to close a gender gap, it starts with what and how we teach our girls.â Participants discussed the skills needed to become an entrepreneur, including Curtis-Fisk, who stressed the importance of communication skills. Others, including Simon and Jin, highlighted the need to encourage creativity, along with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As Jin noted, in early education, the âmore we can do to expand the idea that we are equipped to problem solve as young as possible,â the better. And as Becky Levin, The Possible Project, noted, âAll of us benefit from entrepre- neurial spirit. The set of skills and mindsets that inspire us to try new things, to grow in self-confidence, and envision multiple pathways to success.â Dahl and Barabino reinforced these points, stating that we need to increase public funding for youth and edu- cation programs as well as make STEMM and invention education inclusive. Stephanie Couch, Lemelson MIT Program, added that invention education programs should be offered both after school and during the school day to increase exposure. Programs that encourage hands on learning, allowing kids to define a problem they care about and develop the solution, are particularly needed, said Dahl. One workshop participant suggested creating opportunities for entre- preneurs to visit classrooms to share their stories and inspire students in the pipeline. Curtis-Fisk said, âaligning metrics and expectations for K-12 curriculum can help build the pipeline of future entrepreneurs.â Advancing and Supporting Women of Color Entrepreneurs Many participants described the significant barriers women of color face in entrepreneurship, including, as Chery Leggon, Georgia Institute of Technology, cited a lack of access to information, opportunities, networking, industry contacts, and capital. An additional barrier discussed by Leggon and Fay Cobb-Payton, NSF, is the âinvisible workâ that women of color take on in the workplace, such as serving on committees or mentoring. This work âis not compensated and quite frankly it is not really appreciated by all equally in academia,â Cobb-Payton said, and it results in lost oppor- tunities for innovation. Barabino said it is important to make âinvisible labor, visibleâ for women of color, ensuring they receive credit for their efforts. Nitin Rai, Elevate Capital, emphasized that venture capitalists need to combine mentor- ship with funding support as it is critical for building confidence in women of color entrepreneurs and gaining their trust. âThe challenge of raising capital is not limited to the first check,â and it is important to have a mentor-centric approach to guide women of color entrepreneurs along the fundraising journey, said Rai. Cobb-Payton added that Raiâs approach goes beyond the typical mentoring relationship because it is bidirectional (i.e., mentors are learning as they are teaching) and embodies sponsorship and allyship, which can help to address the lack of social networks that often hinder women of color entrepreneurs. Barabino discussed the need to recognize the unique ways in which biases and barriers manifest for those with intersecting, marginalized identities, in order to address challenges facing women of color in the workplace. This inter- sectional lens should also be applied to rigorous evaluations of entrepreneurship programs that are based on interviews with focus groups or as many individual stakeholders as possible rather than just anecdotal information, Leggon said. Such formal evaluations should assess program goals and objectives during an appropriate timeframe as well as include robust data collection (e.g., operational definitions of success and distinctions between women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms). Leggon stressed the importance of disseminating entrepreneurship program evaluation data as it helps women, particularly women of color, to more effectively navigate these entrepreneurship programs. In addition, dissemination of evaluation data can facilitate collaboration between innovation stakeholders, enabling them to better develop or improve their existing programs and initiatives. Leggon also emphasized that intentionality should be the 8
focus in creating change in environments; however, it is not enough to be intentional, there is also a need for accountability. Nashlie Sephus, Amazon Artificial Intelligence, and Cobb-Payton discussed important next steps for support- ing aspiring women of color entrepreneurs, such as enabling tech entrepreneurship and commercialization at minority serving institutions and redesigning curricula to foster an entrepreneurial mindset. Sephus mentioned the need to direct funding to untapped geographic areas for innovation with potential for growth, such as Mississippi and Alabama. Identifying and Cultivating Role Models and Mentors and Developing Networks to Support Women in Entrepreneurship Throughout the workshop, participants discussed the lack of role models, mentors, and networks to support women, particularly women of color, in pursuing entrepreneurship. As one participant mentioned, girls need role models, âsee- ing people that they can relate to and someone like themâ¦is very important.â Robust networks for women to make connections and develop funding partners are critical. These networks offer subtle connections that demonstrate who is âpart of the club and keep out those who are notâ and contribute directly to access to funding and opportunities, said Susan Hockfield, MIT. Simon discussed the importance of networks in her own experience: âI needed a network of other minority founders in tech to share lessons learned.â Regarding the need for mentors, Philip Weilerstein, VentureWell, supported engaging more faculty and directly working with mentors to be more effective. Committing to Diversity through Changes to Culture and Workplace Climate As described above, workshop participants identified numerous barriers in the workplace climate, including in aca- demia, to increasing womenâs participation in entrepreneurship. As Dahl noted, âsomething has to be done to change the workplace environment and culture for women, particularly women of color. We are losing women.â Being cultur- ally responsive and recognizing unconscious bias, including through bias training, were also mentioned by Curtis-Fisk, Dahl, and others. In terms of addressing barriers for women in academia related to engaging in entrepreneurship, Dahl noted that we need to change the culture around the tenure process. Mary Juhas, The Ohio State University, described the need to address how promotion and tenure affects womenâs participation in entrepreneurship: âthe tenure mindset and the entrepreneurship mindset are at opposite ends of the risk-taking spectrum,â she said. People in academia should also value translational research and innovation in tenure and promotion packages. Weilerstein also discussed the need to strengthen engagement and outreach in an authentic way to reach women in academia, including validating multiple pathways to entrepreneurship. And Bell added that universities should be required to show how they are using data on gender and race disparities to make change. Relatedly, Hockfield noted that universities should be required to collect data on entrepreneurship outcomes and demonstrate how they are using their resources to help all members of their community. Collecting and Sharing Data and Stories about Women Entrepreneurs Numerous participants discussed the importance of inspiring young girls and women to learn about entrepreneurship through the experiences of others. This can be accomplished by collecting data and stories, said Barabino. Data that can be disaggregated to allow us to understand the experiences of women of color, contextualized with stories, are needed, said Barabino. Also, âwho owns the data and who gets to tell the story is really important. The stories need to be told about different pathways,â said Cobb-Payton, and this effort is critical for women of color entrepreneurs. Dahl, Belcher, and others discussed the need to create a single repository for data and stories, some of which may already exist. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Smithsonian Institution already have resources available on women of color inventors, but these resources are not consolidated. The National Academies could play a key role in gathering and providing access to these data and stories, stated Belcher and Barabino. Diversifying and Developing the Support of Current Leadership Murray described the impact of diversifying leadership, which can lead to higher rates of performance in innovation. Many participants echoed the need to take strategic steps to increase the number of women, particularly women of 9
color, in leadership roles and in venture capital firms. One strategy for encouraging diversity among leadership was discussed by Guzman, who noted the need to make a strong business and values case for including women.20 Evidence supports the idea that womenâs participation strengthens the performance of teams and leads to greater financial gains, he said. Richards-Kortum said that bringing women together in conference style meetings to develop networks and support them in seeking leadership positions, particularly in translational and commercialization research, could be an effective approach. Another related topic of discussion was the need to encourage those in current leadership positions, particu- larly men, to take a stronger role in diversifying leadership. As Barabino noted, men can play a role and have an obliga- tion to do so. As one workshop participant said, there is a need to âhold leaders accountable for their behavior toward women, early and often. Document transgressions and take decisive actions to remove leaders that do not support diverse teams.â Encouraging leaders who can serve as champions was also discussed. One participant noted, âThe abil- ity to cultivate powerful champions is important for entrepreneurs from under-represented groups. We hear a lot about wanting to connect with like others, but we also need to connect with powerful others who are not like us.â Broadening Participation and Improving Patent and Commercialization Outcomes for Women Entrepreneurs Trivia Frazier, Obatala Sciences; Leslie Jump, Different; and Valencia Martin-Wallace, USPTO, discussed actions to improve patent and commercialization outcomes for women. Martin-Wallace noted the lack of data on patenting rates, describing a USPTO initiative to support additional data collection and offer innovation education and resources to sup- port womenâs efforts related to commercialization. A key issue is knowledge about available resources, including federal grants, she said. Jump reiterated the need to do a better job of sharing information about grants, including how to ac- cess these resources. Frazier added that university technology transfer offices can also support women new to entrepre- neurship by helping them in identifying and writing grants and offering education about commercialization, patenting, and intellectual property processes. Increasing Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs Several workshop participants discussed the importance of capital for women entrepreneurs, particularly for women of color; as Frazier noted, âcapital is the starting point.â Jump discussed the responsibility of venture capital firms in addressing the lack of capital currently available to women: they need to lead by reexamining how they make decisions about capital allocations. Gaspard also suggested creating programs to encourage investment in women and minori- ties, for example, offering tax credits for investors and developing government-sponsored partnerships that create incentives for venture capital firms to invest in women and people of color. Mandated reporting on venture capital decisions is an important tool to examine how firms are investing their funds, she added. Jin added that increasing womenâs access to non-dilutive capitalâor, capital that does not require giving up equity or ownershipâis important. Also, Richards-Kortum noted the need to address funding gaps at NIH, for example, by dedicating 0.07 percent of the agencyâs budget to equalize R01 funding across all career stages.13 Strengthening connections to funders through networks, providing grant writing support, and expanding knowledge about funding opportunities, was also discussed throughout the workshop. MOVING FORWARD During the course of the workshop, participants identified a number of topics and issues related to the underrepresen- tation of women in entrepreneurship that may warrant further attention by the National Academies or other organizations, including: â¢ Understanding women in entrepreneurship through intersectionality â¢ Identifying mechanisms to make entrepreneurship an attractive career choice for women 20 One example of research on the business case for including women is International Finance Corporation: World Bank Group. 2017. Investing in Women: New Evidence for the Business Case. Available: https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/ac8fca18-6586-48cc-bfba- 832b41d6af68/IFC+Invest+in+Women+October+2017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID=lYLVAcA. 10
â¢ Highlighting and evaluating key components of existing programs that provide women of all backgrounds the business and management skills, negotiation prowess, fundraising abilities, and networks to succeed in entrepreneurial settings â¢ Examining differences between academia and industry in women in innovation, including how to learn from one another â¢ Identifying mechanisms to better support women through different career phases â¢ Assessing how philanthropic funding can be directed more strategically to programs and initiatives de- signed to advance women entrepreneurs â¢ Examining the role of the public education system in increasing womenâs participation in entrepreneurship â¢ Evaluating the role of government agencies, university technology transfer offices, and private sector stake- holders in addressing barriers to women in entrepreneurship A number of workshop panelists and participants reflected on the need for the National Academies to play a continued role in addressing the underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship. As a convener, the National Acad- emies can be important in moving these issues forward, Belcher said. Martin-Wallace said that a strength of the Acad- emies is its ability to bring together diverse groups, supporting collaboration and partnerships, while Frazier discussed the need for the organization to leverage and disseminate ongoing work related to women in entrepreneurship. Jump added that the National Academies can convene influential decision-makers across the STEMM entrepreneurial spec- trum to help them understand current opportunities to support women in innovation. Weilerstein urged the National Academies to pursue the issue of participation in innovation not just for women but for underrepresented groups in general. In her final comments, Harton said that the workshop is a first step in what is hoped to be a more sustained effort to drive much needed change to support women in entrepreneurship. 11
WORSKHOP PLANNING COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Gilda Barabino (Chair), President of Olin College of Engineer- ing; Chair, National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; Angela Belcher, James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Head, Department of Biologi- cal Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jaime Curtis-Fisk, Research Scientist and STEM Learning Leader, Dow Chemical Company; Carol Dahl, Executive Director, The Lemelson Foundation; and Jorge Guzman, Assistant Professor, Management Division, Columbia Business School. STAFF: Marie Harton, Program Officer and Study Director, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medi- cine (CWSEM); Ashley Bear, Acting Director, CWSEM; Marquita Whiting, Senior Program Assistant, CWSEM. DISCLAIMER: This Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief was prepared by Jennifer Saunders and Marie Harton as a factual summary of what occurred at the meeting. The statements made are those of the rapporteur(s) or individual meeting participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all meeting participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. REVIEWERS: To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Work- shopâin Brief was reviewed by Marion Kavanaugh-Lync, California Breast Cancer Research Program and Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Brown University. SPONSORS: This workshop was supported by The Henry Luce Foundation. Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Overcoming Structural Barriers for Women in Entrepreneurship: Proceedings from a WorkshopâIn Brief (2021). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26433. Policy and Global Affairs Copyright 2021 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.