I’ve been sharing the story of my life as an outlier—a Hispanic woman, engineer and entrepreneur—to show how my profound enthusiasm for encouraging girls to learn entrepreneurialism was born. I’m continuing my story here.
While I was teaching entrepreneurship at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, I observed the lack of confidence of many young women in my classes. I decided to focus on teaching entrepreneurial skills to young girls at ages where learning can have a profound effect on their success in life.
As a result of what I’d seen and realized, in 2013 I founded VentureLab, a education nonprofit. It was my growing belief that learning entrepreneurial skills equips girls with the confidence to tackle an array of roles—engineer, computer scientist, founder, CEO, and whatever they set their sights on.
I began to put my belief to the test. I worked with an energetic team of techies, engineers and educators to develop classes to teach entrepreneurial skills in the only way I knew—hands-on, highly interactive, dynamic, with product ideas generated by girls themselves, and teams of students collaborating and competing.
My own experiences as a girl whose parents encouraged hands-on experiences helped shape this approach.
I have observed repeatedly a remarkable core transformation in girls of all ages who take part in the entrepreneurial exercises of VentureLab. We demonstrate that entrepreneurial education holds a key to sparking girls’ interest in engineering, computer science, and technology by doing the following:
- • Making these subjects real and relevant as girls learn to “think like entrepreneurs” about subjects that matter to them
- • Encouraging curiosity, perseverance and grit, important traits in these fields
- • Providing opportunities for girls to learn from failures and become wiser each time, as successful entrepreneurs and scientists do
- • Introducing career possibilities in fields that girls might not otherwise even know to consider, casting themselves as engineers, computer scientists, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs, and visualizing their success
Our goal is to teach girls to think like entrepreneurs, anticipate needs, innovate and try things that they know might fail.
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences in encouraging the girls in your life to think like entrepreneurs. Have you ever helped them discover their potential in this way? What were the results? Thank you for sharing!
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