Jenifer, share a bit about yourself, and your own journey in becoming an entrepreneur.
I have a Master degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry and Tech platform development. I dedicated about 10 years of my career developing tech platforms for accelerating the discovery of new therapies for different types of diseases. I worked both in academia and in biotech. My passion for gender balance and diversity in the workplace has always been there, and it became stronger the last years when I saw myself and other women struggling in career advancing due to the gender norms and (un)conscious bias still sadly present in society and especially in the workplace. This passion for changing the norms was the trigger for starting my own company where I could both build a company free of societal norms and build a tech tool that would accelerate gender balance and diversity.
How does the content we created for RISE challenge the excising barriers for women in entrepreneurship?
The program will help them understand what is actually necessary to become a great and effective entrepreneur and will provide them with tools to do so. It will help them to undergo a personal and professional development, where they will learn to overcome their own stereotypes (self-bias) and build their own self-worth and confidence in a counter-stereotypic field, as entrepreneurship is for women while learning all the theoretical and practical knowledge to build a start-up. Being a good entrepreneur is the combination of having the right knowledge, access to resources, passion, self-worth and confidence.
Why do you believe using the DD-tool is important in entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is still today a male-dominated field. The perception that a successful entrepreneur is the one with a “type A behaviour” (competitive, ambitious and aggressive) is one of the main reasons women do not think they belong within the entrepreneurship world. Using the DD-tool is very important for ensuring that the language used in communication is inclusive and doesn’t contain male-connoted words, which are discouraging women from pursuing entrepreneurship. Women do not feel attracted by male-connoted words, as men do, due to the pre-existing societal stereotypes where they were born in and the experiences they had during their childhood and adulthood.
How can we do more to overcome the inner and outer barriers in the universities and the startup scene in general?
A well-known strategy is to have role models in counter-stereotypic positions, such as in STEM education, tech, leadership and entrepreneurship. Women role models have shown to have a great impact on women’s perception of their own potential and skills, and in men’s perception of women’s abilities to succeed in counter-stereotypic positions.