By definition, entrepreneurship is the act of starting a business, or in a bigger picture sense, it is creating something where there is nothing. It means having the vision to create opportunities in areas yet undiscovered by others. To take on the challenges of entrepreneurship, a person needs a certain of set of life skills that aren’t taught in your average school curriculum.
Because of this it is so important to start teaching girls business—especially the ins and outs of entrepreneurship—from an early age.
As a female entrepreneur myself, I believe teaching girls about business is just as important as math, reading, and writing. In order to close the gender inequality gaps that we keep talking about, we need to start early. Girls aren’t falling behind in the curriculum. In fact, studies show that on average, girls receive better grades than their male counterparts in school and have a 7% higher high school graduation rate.
Instead, the problem seems to be that girls are falling behind in their leadership skills.
Through my work teaching young girls business, I've identified a few areas in which entrepreneurship can teach leadership skills:
This is an area where many, including myself, struggle. When I first started my own public relations business I was so terrified of making a wrong decision that I avoided making decisions at all. But part of being a leader is making difficult decisions and then having the gumption to back them up.
Business IS risky, and that old adage Nothing risked, nothing gained rings true. Calculated risks are necessary to achieve growth and success, even if it means accepting a few failures along the way. It’s a learning process for everyone.
This is where girls especially seem to struggle. A study conducted by Sheryl Ball, Catherine C. Eckel, and Maria Heracleous in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, proves that girls still have a harder time taking risks than their male counter parts. The reality is that no matter what kind of leadership position you have, you will need to be comfortable with taking risks.
Often, being an entrepreneur means that you are the only one that is fighting for your idea. Asking for what you want is crucial to the advancement of a burgeoning company or any objective that requires support.
As Sheryl Sandberg so famously said, "we’ve got to get women to sit at the table." Then, once we are sitting at the table, we have to start participating, if we want to get anywhere. Since girls tend to be less confident about speaking up, especially when they are unsure of the answer, we need to find ways to change this.
Part of entrepreneurship means you have to wear many hats, usually on a daily basis.
However, this does not coincide with the either/or mentality that we teach women. From a young age, we are groomed to start thinking about if want a career OR a family.
Teaching business empowers girls to realize that juggling is really just part of life, so it never has to be an either/or situation.
Perhaps the most important skill of all is the ability to navigate obstacles, something that is hard to teach in the traditional classroom setting. When you own a business, you become accustomed to solving problems on a daily basis.
If young girls acquire the wisdom to tackle an issue head on, there is no question about it; they will start to get further in all aspects of life.
To learn more about young entrepreneurship and the creation of young women leaders, please visit, Glamtrepreneur.com
—Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to assist in getting more media placements for their clients. She specializes in representing technology, health care, business and lifestyle companies. Rebekah also blogs about the trials and tribulations of gen-y entrepreneurship at NeonNotebook.
[Image: Flickr user Franklin Park Library]