Sep 28, 2018

Bank of America Launches Entrepreneurship Classes for Women

As reported by Forbes.com, Cornell University and Bank of America have partnered to launch the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship. The core content is being developed and taught by faculty from Cornell. While most online courses can accommodate large numbers of students, this program is limited to 100 students so that instructors can facilitate effective discussions in small groups.

The new institute is being led by Dr. Deborah Streeter, a faculty director with decades of experience teaching entrepreneurship and small business management. The curriculum covers subjects like customer discovery and negotiation skills, with all the courses specifically addressing internal and external obstacles faced by women.

“Some of the challenges are that 98% of the venture capital world is run by men, or that we’re challenged by stereotypes we’ve grown up with,” Streeter said. “There’s a narrow pathway between coming across as powerful and ambitious and also getting push back for being like that. The majority of the coursework is really practical, providing strategies for dealing with those things.”

This focus on funding is in response to recent studies that highlight the gender bias women face when attempting to access capital. To experts like Streeter, this lack of parity is more than unfortunate. It’s horribly misguided. After all, studies reveal that businesses run by women provide a higher return on investment than businesses run by men.

“The female-founded start-ups outperformed their male counterparts in terms of revenue, bringing in $730,000 over a five-year period versus $662,000 for the men,” said Streeter, referencing one of the gender-based studies. “When you crunch the numbers, that means these women-run companies are returning 78 cents per dollar compared to 31 cents for the men.”

These facts, while compelling, are not sufficient to remedy long-held notions and biases regarding women in business. So the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship is dedicated to combating the internal messages that often prevent women from seeking funding and effectively negotiating.

“Typically if women try to negotiate like a man they won’t be successful if they try in that fist-pounding way,” said Streeter. “So, it’s about finding a way to negotiate that works and also feels right.”

Ultimately, the courses are aimed at helping women step outside their comfort zone and leverage their network. It’s all tailored to the needs and interests of entrepreneurs with five years of experience or less, but may also be relevant for more seasoned business owners.

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About the author

Grant Olsen
Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.

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