By Harrison Kratz (Community Manager, MBA@UNC) Thanks to initiatives and leaders such as Change the Ratio, Women 2.0 and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in business has been a hot topic over the last several years. While much progress has been made, the higher education system has yet to be a force in driving women business leaders and entrepreneurs. Seeing how education is still one of the key foundations in this country, this has been troubling. However, there are solutions that can boost the education of women in entrepreneurship and business leadership in the immediate future. Having discussions about why we need to make these changes is progressive, but we need a “how” to make this movement a reality… Here are some of my ideas.
Technology to provide distance learning
Women have and always will be the rock of families around the world. Society now wants women to not only raise families, but also build a career. If this is to be expected, then we have to start giving women the tools they need to do so. For women that want to advance their careers through graduate level education, we need to start utilizing the technology that allows women to advance their education while they raise their children. I am fortunate to be a part of this movement with MBA@UNC, UNC’s online MBA program that allows men and women to receive their degree from anywhere in the world. For the mothers in our program, this experience has been like any other.
Put women entrepreneurs at the forefront
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg… What do they all have in common? They are all men. Like Jackie Robinson in baseball and Hillary Clinton in politics, groups of people that are trying to break into an industry or career need symbols they can relate to. Thus, we need to start putting women entrepreneurs and leaders in the forefront of education so that women can be inspired by those they can relate to.
Female entrepreneurship courses
Entrepreneurship courses are plentiful at many universities. That said, teaching entrepreneurship to men and women while using the same examples and teaching, doesn’t do the trick. To advance women in entrepreneurship, we need to focus this education around the path that they will need to take because it is vastly different and more difficult. As far as why these changes need to be implemented, these are some of the key reasons…
Change is needed
Like in 2008, change is needed. While people took to the streets in full force in 2011 during the “Occupy” movement, there was a major piece missing from their approach - The protestors were not in a position to make a change from within or at the top. If all of the ideologies stay the same among the decision makers, not much is going to change. Now is the time for a fresh perspective (us men haven’t done the greatest job with the economy) and women need to be prepared to make those changes. This starts in the classroom.
We’ve all heard this issue before and the label of “job creator” is coveted and celebrated now more than ever. The government continues to try and figure out how we can create more jobs, but a whole crop of potential job creators goes untapped because we are not educating or preparing them to be in a position to create opportunities for others. Women have the potential to solve this issue at minimal cost to the government. With an ecosystem of untapped talent and leadership, we are neglecting an easy and progressive solution that will progress both the world of entrepreneurship and the economy as a whole.
Women Understand the Business of Community
It is no secret that we are in a community driven economy where the customer is more informed and louder than ever. Businesses have and still are adapting to this way of business by hiring community managers and public faces that understand how to listen and engage with their customers. To date, women dominate this industry. While these roles are not at an executive level yet, they will be soon and we need to start putting women in position to take those leadership roles to lead companies as they become more social and communications based. While I am no expert, I believe that these “hows” and “whys” can turn education from a supporter into a driver of women entrepreneurs and leaders in business. Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Harrison Kratz.is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, a new initiative which allows students to receive their MBA online from the University of North Carolina from anywhere around the world. He also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. Follow him on Twitter at @KratzPR.