Organization aims for more female leaders

first_imgYiqing Sun, a first-year student in the Master’s of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, has become the city ambassador for the Beijing organization GirlsUp. As campus ambassador, she hopes to encourage young women to get out of their comfort zones and start their own businesses.GirlsUp, which is known as GirlUp in Beijing and is also where the organization was founded, serves as an incubator for young female entrepreneurs by connecting them to investors. The organization, which operates under the three themes of empowerment, communication and lifestyle, helps young women to develop their business models and strengthen their pitches. GirlsUp also hopes to provide an environment where young women can meet mentors and form connections.Sun said that in her classes she does not necessarily feel outnumbered by men. She said, however, that she felt that there were not a lot of women in USC taking positions of power.Winners · Left to right, Amanda Yodowitz, Alina Efford, Lloyd Greif and Stephanie Schwartz pose with a check to help develop a business concept. – Photo courtesy of Helena Yli-Renko“Leadership is a real issue,” Sun said.With GirlsUp, she hopes to change that. Her sentiment is shared by other students at USC.“I agree that there’s a disparity between female entrepreneurs and male entrepreneurs at USC,” said Rani Tiruveedhula, an alumna who graduated in 2014 in an email. “When I was an undergrad, I would take trips with the entrepreneur club members to Northern California to meet with companies. There was one trip in which I was the only woman.”Other students felt that men also tended to have an advantage in terms of business resources.“I feel like there is not enough resources, especially for women who want to become entrepreneurs in comparison to men,” said Karishma Nagar, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering and co-founder and president of her own startup, Pixeom, in an email.The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is taking measures to encourage young women to become entrepreneurs.“The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies encourages female entrepreneurship by bringing in successful women entrepreneurs as faculty, guest speakers, and mentors into the entrepreneurship program,” said Helena Yli-Renko, director of the Greif Center in an email.In January 2014, the Greif Center and the Marshall MBA Career Center organized the first Marshall Women’s Pitch Competition. Forty female entrepreneurs competed for the grand prize of $40,000.In the spring, the Greif Center also held the Venture Seed Competition where participants took part in workshops to refine their business concepts. At the end of the competition, students presented their businesses to a panel of judges and received cash prizes. Two of the groups that won $5,000 were composed of primarily women.Through GirlsUp, Sun hopes to further promote the entrepreneurial spirit of young women at USC. She hopes to maintain the brand spirit of the GirlsUp in Beijing, while also customizing it for the United States.“Instead of setting up traditional career fairs, I hope to create events where people can just talk,” Sun said. “Once a month, I also hope to create fun outings so members can meet.”Sun wants to expand to other campuses nearby.“I am also planning a pitch competition with other universities in the area like UCLA and Santa Barbara, so that students can meet each other and bounce ideas back and forth,” Sun said.Sun believes that the biggest reason women decide not to follow through with their ideas is because they don’t know how to carry them out.“They have a brilliant idea and they know their goal, they just do not know how to achieve it,” she said. “With GirlsUp, we hope to teach young women how to carry out their goals.”Yli-Renko encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs take action and start their businesses.“I must say I’ve never felt that being a woman is a disadvantage or would somehow have made starting the business more challenging” Yli-Renko said. “If anything, it might help — you stand out in the crowd and people remember you.”GirlsUp will be holding its first event on Wednesday and Thursday in TCC 302. The organization is inviting people to come for tea in the afternoon so that they can get to know the organization better and meet other aspiring female entrepreneurs.“I don’t want women to sit back and wait for their ideas to unfold,” Sun said. “I want them to take action. I want women to create something beautiful.”last_img

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