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Girls Club Today's college women are gearing up to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you've been paying attention to the state of women'sbusiness, you've heard the oft-mentioned fact from the Centerfor Women's Business Research: Women-owned businesses aregrowing at twice the rate of all privately held firms. But we atEntrepreneur wondered: Is that passion for entrepreneurshiphitting women at the college level?

The good news is that, yes, entrepreneurial educators are seeingmore interest from young aspiring women entrepreneurs than everbefore, says Jill Kickul, the Elizabeth J. McCandless Chair inEntrepreneurship at Simmons College in Boston. "The [number]of women who are looking at entrepreneurship as a career option isincreasing," she says. However, notes Kickul, young women arenot always confident in their business abilities, according torecent research conducted at Simmons in conjunction with theCommittee of 200, a national women's business networking andadvocacy nonprofit organization. The women who had the mostconfidence were the ones who had either a strong entrepreneurialrole model or some type of entrepreneurship training. Based on thatknowledge, Kickul says, Simmons' entrepreneurship training isbuilt around role models--bringing in successful entrepreneurs,having entrepreneurial labs and the like. "One practicumexperience involves working throughout a semester with a womanentrepreneur," says Kickul. "Students help [theentrepreneur] do various things--build a business model orstrategy, or a growth, financial or marketing plan."

Jaime Mautz, founder of Pacific Ink, an online printer inkretailer in San Diego, certainly felt her confidence rise duringher MBA training at San Diego State University. "It got me outinto the real world, and I saw what it was like to have a company.Just having the background of all the different classes, all thecase studies--you learn from other people's mistakes," shesays. Writing her business plan for her thesis project, shelaunched the company right before graduation in 2000. Today,PacificInk's annual revenues are well into the high seven figures.Mautz, 32, now speaks to students at her alma mater aboutentrepreneurship--and this working mother also tells them howowning her own business is compatible with family life, a questionshe often receives from female MBA students.

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