See It. Be It.

Women entrepreneurs are crushing stereotypes

When asked to name three entrepreneurs, many might think of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. The stereotypes that tie the word “entrepreneur” to [white] men and technology are one of the most challenging barriers women in entrepreneurship face and are amplified for diverse women entrepreneurs. They shape the way funding programs, training, and incubators are designed, and the way financing and investment decisions are made.

Perhaps even more importantly, they shape the aspirations and confidence of women because “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”

In an effort to redefine who an entrepreneur is, what they do and how they look, the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, led by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, launched the See It. Be It. campaign. The campaign features dozens of successful women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, sectors, experiences and regions across Canada.

“We need to challenge stereotypes of entrepreneurship in the media, in policies and programs throughout the innovation ecosystem and to apply a gender and diversity lens to uncover how biases create barriers,” says Wendy Cukier, founder of the Diversity Institute and Academic Director of WEKH. “More than anything, we need to celebrate successful women entrepreneurs who serve as role models and inspiration to other women.”

Throughout February, WEKH is celebrating Black History Month by profiling black women entrepreneurs in the See It. Be It. campaign. It is also a proud sponsor of the Rise Up pitch competition, a program developed by the Black Business and Professional Association, Casa Foundation and de Sedulous Women, to give Black women entrepreneurs, at any stage of business, the opportunity to pitch for the chance to win thousands of dollars in financial awards and resources. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on February 26.

Read more about how stereotypes affect women entrepreneurs; meet the women crushing the stereotypes and nominate an award-winning, successful woman entrepreneur to be included in WEKH’s See It. Be It. database.

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