The empowerment of women within the workforce has spread like wildfire over the past several years, and Boise State has recently hosted multiple conferences and panels to discuss that drive and ambition amongst female entrepreneurs.
The “Being a Women and an Entrepreneur” Panel took place on Oct. 23, where three keynote speakers answered questions about life as an entrepreneur in this day and age, and their roles as women inside industries that have been historically male-driven.
Among the many stories and questions answered, various tips, tricks and words of advice were offered to the students considering going into their own businesses.
Karen Nicholas, assistant professor for the management department, was the moderator of this panel and guided the discussion.
“There are still male-dominated industries, and I’m sure there are still biases there, but I hope they’re getting smaller and fewer,” Nicholas said.
American Express recently released a 2018 report detailing the state of women-owned businesses. Since 1972, the amount of firms owned by women has grown 31 times, accounting for 40% of the businesses today.
However, this report also acknowledged that the growth in women-owned businesses has been uneven. According to research, “over the course of nearly half a century, women have gone from owning 4.6% to 40% of all businesses. However, these businesses account for only 8% of all employment and 4.3% of total revenues.”
Panelist Liza Roeser, CEO and founder of Fifty Flowers, described her experience starting her own business 22 years ago.
“I just found myself in a foreign situation that was very male-driven and very sexist, and told myself, ‘I’m not going to focus on that’,” Roeser said. “I knew that I had this passion and grit, and I knew what I could make happen, and that has been my drive to be a successful entrepreneur.”
Sylvia Hampel, President of ClearView Cleaning, explained that new entrepreneurs are not going to be successful at everything they do.
“A lot of times what I see, especially with young entrepreneurs or people who are starting businesses, is that they give up really fast. It’s a lot of work, it’s really hard, and owning a business doesn’t happen overnight or in a year,” Hampel said.
She compared this process to that of Dutch Bros – although the coffee shop has been in business for 12 years now, it has only become popular within the last two or three years.
Danielle Huff, owner of C&H Baseball, added her perspective of being a woman in a male-dominated career field. She explained how her success is a result of sheer grit and the determination to do whatever it took to accomplish her goals.
“If someone tells you that it can’t be done that way or because you’re a woman, it’s like, I’ll show you,” Huff said. “I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I would do, but I had the will to get it done and do whatever it takes.”
Nicholas wished to impart the takeaway that there may be barriers as a woman, or rather, women may believe there are barriers simply because they are a woman.
“But I hope and personally believe that the barrier isn’t as high as we perceive it to be,” Nicholas said. “I like to believe that the men aren’t biased. But either way, women need to give it a shot.”