Last December, senior Sloan Baker and I discussed her camp friend’s female-led nonprofit organization. Ariel Beck started Girls Who Start to inspire, build and connect young women surrounding entrepreneurship. The club showcases female entrepreneurial speakers for their club members. Some highlights have been Jeni Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Ice Cream, and Sarah Kauss, founder of S’well. Listening to these business leaders provided club members with some of the opportunities and tools necessary to turn their dreams into reality.
In 2016, founder and national president Ariel Beck attended Amazon’s first Women Entrepreneurship Conference. Beck said that it was then that she “realized the importance of female representation in the business world.” At the conference, she was surrounded by brilliant female entrepreneurs who discussed the lack of credit women receive in the field. “Venture capitalists invested $127 billion in companies with all-male founders in 2018 and women received just $2.9 billion in venture capital investment,” Beck cited from Fortune. Beck wanted to change that statistic and Girls Who Start was her way to do so. She hopes that through her organization she will “provide exposure” to future female entrepreneurs, raising numbers in the field.
I fell in love with the organization’s mission and was inspired to bring something similar to Pace, so I founded the “Women’s Entrepreneurship Club.” Our club sponsor, Dr. Christine Carter, was completely on board when I proposed the idea to her in January. Every Monday during break she opens her classroom to hold our weekly meetings.
In these meetings, I teach and lead a team of high school girls on what it means to be a leader, hoping they carry these skills with them after they graduate from Pace. “We start each meeting with a question or activity relating to leadership,” said junior Grace Heineman. I believe this is an interactive way to ease into our main meeting goal while doing something productive. “One day we talked about different leadership styles and another day we discussed how we would act as a leader in different scenarios,” said Heineman.
I believe that being a leader doesn’t have to be through traditional positions, like being president of a club. Being a leader means advocating and directing a group of people who have the same goals or ideas as you. I love to see the club members speak up about their beliefs in front of everyone in the class. I also think it teaches them to speak on their feet in front of a group of people. Such skills will help them become a confident leader in their future careers.
As for the entrepreneurial side of the club, we are currently working on hosting a female entrepreneur to speak with our club before the end of the school year. “Each meeting we split into three groups: high school outreach, middle school outreach, and speaker contact,” said sophomore Sara Mazur. “In each group we are given tasks to complete for our future event.”
The speaker contact group gathers to get in touch with our potential speaker and figure out logistics for the event, such as date, time and location. High school outreach creates posters to advertise the event and manages our social media. Middle school outreach is in charge of recruiting rising ninth graders to join our club and running our club stand during the fall club fair.
I love running each meeting in this format because it gives the girls an idea of what it is like to be in a workplace environment. Teamwork is crucial but so is being in specialized groups with their own jobs to complete. While I oversee and plan each meeting and outside event, I give the girls full responsibility for their duties, and I always listen to their ideas. It really shows me who can take charge in a group but can also listen to their co-workers.
I think the reason why Women’s Entrepreneurship Club works so well is the passion that is driving it. I really do love planning every meeting, and it is the highlight of my Monday morning. I think it challenges my own leadership skills and builds those of every club member.