How Women Entrepreneurs Can Help Their Daughters Follow in Their Footsteps
Given the mega-hours that women entrepreneurs devote each day to building their businesses and developing their skills, chances are that many of them have occasionally paused along their journey and asked themselves: How do I apply all of these entrepreneurial skills to developing my own daughter’s skills? How do I boost her confidence and set her on a path to entrepreneurship or leadership in the profession she's chosen?
Recent politics support this query: The #MeToo movement has galvanized women, including moms, to take action to break the negative cycles of the past -- girls being discouraged from excelling at science and math or following their "nonfeminine" passion or displaying leadership -- and the outlook for the next generation likely looms large in their efforts.
Science also supports the notion that women entrepreneurs are thinking about how they can help their daughters: In a survey by Kabbage, a financial service platform, 84 percent of 1,000 small business owners polled said they hoped their own children one day would become entrepreneurs -- and certainly those respondents included women entrepreneurs.
Then there's the story Gayle Jagel tells. She founded the Young Entrepreneur Academy, providing business training to middle- and high school students. But she did so, Jagel told Entrepreneur, only after her daughter, Meredith, expressed interest in starting a dog-walking and washing business in their Rochester, N.Y., neighborhood.
"I thought, 'This is great, this is adorable; there's got to be resources at the library or a bookstore that I could [use to] walk her through this process,'" Jagel said. "So, I went out looking for materials, and there weren't any to teach an 8-year-old how to create a business."
What this entrepreneurial mom did next was sit down at the kitchen table and guide her young daughter through writing a business plan, and identifying her passion and what she wanted to do. "What was interesting to me is, she really understood the concepts like an adult. I was presenting them in a kid-friendly way, and that really struck me," Jagel said.
That's how Meredith's canine startup Barks & Bubbles got its start. But more important were the seeds that parenting experience also planted for Jagel for the national entrepreneurial training academy she would eventually form at the University of Rochester.
Founded in the 2003-04 school year, YEA has since expanded to 100 campus programs in the United States (and 12 more, in India and Shanghai). Some 49 percent of YEA's U.S. enrollees are girls.
What's the advice YEA's CEO can offer to entrepreneurial moms wanting to influence their own daughters? "Be bold and be specific," Jagel replies. "It's important to describe the 'why' -- that you are a female leader and what are the positive aspects of that.
"Then, be bold with your daughter, in terms of giving her great advice on how to take the lead and the kinds of steps that she could take."
To help formulate that advice, here is a selection of some of the many training programs, books and learning resources moms of future female entrepreneurs can turn to, to set their daughters on the path to business acumen, leadership, success and that all-important sense of self-worth.
Girl-entrepreneur training organizations
Girl Scouts of the USA has the largest entrepreneurial program in the world for girls, in the form of its annual cookie selling drive. The organization’s Digital Cookie website helps girls organize their entrepreneurial efforts as does its Leadership Program and its “Camp CEO” summer camps sponsored by 14 councils around the U.S.
Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA!), based in Rochester, N.Y., aims to transform middle and high school students into entrepreneurs. The year-long after-school program for grades 6-12 helps students generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans and pitch to local panels of investors before launching their own companies. (There is also an in-school curriculum for high schools.) YEA has 100 college-campus locations in the United States, plus 11 in India and a new one in Shanghai. Forty-nine percent of the U.S. students are girls (as are an impressive 42 percent in India). Tuition varies, and scholarships are available.
Girls With Impact, founded by veteran entrepreneur Jennifer Openshaw, offers what it calls an “online MBA” to girls, in grades 9-12, interested in launching their own businesses. The program, starting up again in late September, offers 12 weeks of online classes, with meetings online once a week and sessions for the young participants on how to create business plans and other business skills taught by experienced coaches.
Junior Achievement’s Be Entrepreneurial Program introduces students, grades 9 to 12, to the elements of a business plan and encourages them to start an entrepreneurial project in high school. Skills covered include advertising, financing, marketing and product development. The program consists of seven sessions, 45 minutes each.
FIRST FIRST ( Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), based in Manchester, N.H., aims to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The organization's website says it's reached more than 530,000 students in 95 countries. FIRST offers robotics and other programs to motivate kids from kindergarten to high school to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Incubatoredu began at suburban Chicago’s Barrington High School in 2014 and today has 11,000 students participating at 100 schools in 18 states. In a yearlong course, the students develop their own product or service, aided by actual entrepreneurs and business experts. Those who complete the course and receive funding may move forward to ACCELeratoredu HS, where they actually launch a business and work to gain traction in the marketplace
Girls Who Code, founded six years ago by Reshma Saujani, describes its mission as “building the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States.” Already, this training program has reached 90,000 girls in all 50 states. Its learning program is divided into three options: a seven-week day camp program in the summer for girls in 10th and 11th grades (free, with stipends for transportation and living expenses); a campus-based, two-week summer program for grades 6 to 12 (prices vary); and a free after-school program for grades 3 to 5 and 6 to 12, meeting one to two hours weekly or on weekends.
Girls Inc. This network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves girls ages 6 to 18 at 1,400 sites in 400 cities across the United States and Canada. Its mission statement says: “Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy.” Programming in a “pro-girl” environment helps girls resist peer pressure and risky behavior, finish high school and establish their own identity.
Coding FTW (“female tech warriors”) aims to create visibility for girls interested in tech through facilitating their participation in hackathons. Coding FTW works in league with the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club and the JCC in inner cities as well as with schools in rural parts of the nation.
Curious Jane summer camp is held at multiple locations in the large metropolitan areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn (and newly, this past summer, at the NOMAD school in San francisco). The S.T.E.M.-oriented camps’ theme is “building a community of confident, inquisitive girls who like to make things!” Classes (at summer camp, plus mini-camps during school-year holidays and birthday parties) have titles like “Spa Science,” “Wired 101” and “Kitchen Chemistry.” The organization also has a national magazine.
Grit & Grace, by Quotabelle, Pauline Weger and Alicia Williamson (Rock Point). This attractive, multicolored hardcover is entirely devoted to thought-provoking quotes (with accompanying bios) from historic figures like Marie Curie and Susan B. Anthony; modern-day icons like filmmaker Ava DuVernay and Queen Elizabeth II; and celebrities whom teens follow, like Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift and Meghan Markle.
The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self, By Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (HarperBooks). This book for girls 8 to 12, was published on the heels of the authors’ adult best-seller The Confidence Code. It uses fun graphics, quizzes and input from real-life girls as well as from social scientists to help young girls learn to trust their own feelings and find the strategies that will help them throughout life..
Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, by Reshma Saujani (Puffin Books). A nonfiction book by Girls Who Code’s founder. Targeting the organization’s teen audience, the book uses a fun format to examine what coding is, its applications and its importance in the digital age.
Toys and books for our youngest daughters
Best Reviews Guide: recommended S.T.E.M.-oriented toys and books for the youngest set
A Mighty Girl: Movie DVDs, clothing, books and toys reflecting girl power