WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 25, 2019, to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M).
The Baltimore roundtable convened local women business owners in S.T.E.M. to share their perspective on the educational pipeline and barriers to accessing capital. The conversation also included educators, investors, organizational representatives, and government officials.
NWBC Council Member Shelonda Stokes welcomed attendees and set the stage for the discussion noting, “As advocates for the nation’s estimated 12.3 million women-owned businesses, NWBC strives to encourage women to start and grow their businesses in S.T.E.M., an industry with proven high-growth potential.”
NWBC Chair Liz Sara prompted the local women entrepreneurs to share the trials and tribulations of starting and growing their businesses All participants recognized the difficulties of establishing credibility as the subject matter expert in a room full of men. One participant transformed a regional software engineering firm into a global software company and noted that access to equity capital was her toughest charge along the way.
The need for mentorship was a prominent theme around the table. Some found counsel within their client base, while others forged connections with personal role models in their industry. Representatives from a local state university noted that tech entrepreneurs had trouble finding properly tailored advice, so the university is hoping to utilize alumni in specialized fields for better guidance. A non-profit organization focused on computer science education stressed a need for relevant curriculums that cater to the interests of young girls and expressed that early, consistent exposure is key when attracting females to these underrepresented fields.
Council Member Monica Stynchula wrapped up the roundtable discussion and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders from the Baltimore area.
St. Petersburg, FL
WASHINTON, D.C., August 13, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in St. Petersburg, FL on August 6, 2019, to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in S.T.E.M. Florida is ranked number one in the country for the fastest growth rate of women-owned businesses according to the 2018 AMEX State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
The event began with NWBC Chair Liz Sara welcoming the roundtable participants and attendees, including founders in various business sectors in S.T.E.M., from technology to manufacturing to health. Chair Sara highlighted the Council’s efforts to convene women business owners on topics related to the Council’s three issue areas: Women in S.T.E.M., Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Access to Capital.
The highlight of the Roundtable was a fireside chat with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and NWBC Council Member Marygrace Sexton, Founder & CEO of Natalie’s Orchid Island Juices. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Rubio discussed current legislation pertaining to women’s business enterprise such as the Women & Minority Equity Investment Act, which allows women-owned firms to accept venture capital and equity investments that would constitute more than 50 percent of the ownership of a firm and still maintain ownership and control of the business for purposes of WOSB or 8(a) contracting program certifications, so long as the venture capital or equity firm is also woman-owned. The Senator also highlighted his Supporting Veterans in S.T.E.M. Careers Act, noting, “We have a wealth of talent leaving the service, and they are equipped with unique skills. It is particularly important for our women in uniform to utilize their skills for S.T.E.M. careers or to start their own businesses.”
NWBC Council Member Monica Stynchula, Founder & CEO of REUNIONCare, Inc. and a local of St. Petersburg, then moderated a lively discussion among women business owners in S.T.E.M. fields. The importance of early S.T.E.M. education and business mentorship were prominent themes around the table. A business consultant advised, “Surround yourself with a circle of influence and recognize that you could be in someone else’s circle too.”
An owner of an engineering and manufacturing company recounted her experience as the only woman in her college science program and recalled how the professor could not remember her name and would return her papers last. She noted the importance of teaching entrepreneurial skills at an early age and engaging young women in S.T.E.M. fields. A representative from a local college highlighted that the majority of the school’s natural science majors were women, but they consistently identified as scientists and not necessarily entrepreneurs. Several participants echoed these sentiments by acknowledging the need for business education to be interwoven throughout basic education courses. Others stressed that while S.T.E.M. education was important, S.T.E.M. degrees were not as essential to a start-up’s success as the ability of the founder to learn and adapt to ever-changing technologies.
NWBC Chair Sara wrapped up the roundtable discussion by highlighting the overarching themes and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders in the St. Petersburg area.
“We work with the federal government to give female founders and the organizations that support them the opportunity to give live testimony with influential legislators at the table.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2019 – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is hosting a roundtable in Baltimore, MD on June 25, 2019, from 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM EST as part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series’. The Council seeks to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M).
The June 25th roundtable will convene local women business owners in S.T.E.M to share their perspective on the educational pipeline, barriers to accessing capital, and workforce recruitment issues. Hosting this discussion in Baltimore provides NWBC with the opportunity to collaborate with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s National Conference.
The conversation will also include educators, investors, and government officials. NWBC Chair Liz Sara, Council Members Shelonda Stokes, Monica Stynchula, Nicole Cober, Pam Prince-Eason and Vanessa Dawson will be in attendance.
Women business owners have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy; however, they continue to be underrepresented in the S.T.E.M fields. In fact, while women constitute 47% of the overall workforce, they make up just 28% of the science and engineering workforce.
“NWBC’s ‘Profile of Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America’ found that millennial women are the most likely generation to hold a degree in S.T.E.M. NWBC wants to encourage women in these fields with innovative and scalable ideas to start and grow their business, increase their receipts, and create jobs.” – NWBC Chair Liz Sara
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 06, 2020 – S. 737, the Building Blocks of STEM Act, was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on December 24, 2019. Sponsored by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), the bill instructs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to more equitably allocate funding for research with a focus on early childhood education. It also directs NSF to support research on factors that discourage or encourage girls to engage in STEM activities, including computer science.
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is encouraged by the passage of this legislation and will continue to identify pipeline barriers for women entrepreneurs in the STEM fields. “Just four days prior to the passage of this bill, NWBC released its 2019 Annual Report, which provides policy recommendations in three key areas of importance to female founders including women in STEM. The passage of this bill is very encouraging and both NWBC and its staff remain resolute in working to advance policies that provide greater insight and support for female engagement in STEM,” said Nina Roque, Executive Director, National Women’s Business Council.
NWBC expressed support for the key provisions of S.737 in its 2019 Annual Report:
- NSF Grants Should be Utilized for Research Regarding Female Students’ Engagement in STEM: The Council agrees that NSF grants to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM fields should be leveraged and utilized for in-depth research into various subjects regarding female students—students in prekindergarten through elementary school—including: (1) the role of teachers and caregivers in encouraging, or discouraging, participation by female students in STEM activities; and (2) the types of STEM activities that encourage greater participation by these students.
- NSF Computer Science Education Grants Should be Utilized for Development of Gender-Inclusive Learning and Teaching Tools: NSF grants marked for ‘computer science education’ and ‘computational thinking’ research should be utilized to support development and implementation of various teaching and learning tools and models, including: (1) developing and offering gender-inclusive computer science enrichment programs; and (2) acquainting female students in prekindergarten through elementary school with careers in computer science.