New program empowers women in tech startups
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The hot new field of technology startups faces a distressing problem: Women are so underrepresented in these companies’ leadership ranks that less than 10 percent of venture-backed startups are headed by women.
On Tuesday, 55 women will emerge from a new program, Empowering Women in Technology Startups, or eWiTS, ready to change these statistics — and the world.
During the nine-week program, participants formed teams around nine technologies developed by female researchers at UF. Experienced women entrepreneurs and business executives volunteered to mentor the teams toward their goal: to develop a business plan and present the opportunity to a panel of female investors.
These investors, also volunteers, will judge the presentations in a competition from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Florida Innovation Hub at UF, 747 SW Second Ave., Gainesville. Winners will receive prizes including iPads and gift certificates to Dragonfly Sushi and a local spa.
“The women in this program have worked incredibly hard,” said Innovation Hub Director Jane Muir, who founded the program. “They’re graduating from this program with training and skills that will empower them for the rest of their lives. From our perspective, we’ve developed a talent pool of potential entrepreneurs who will help the university commercialize research discoveries.”
Organizers modeled the initiative after Startup Quest, another collaborative effort by UF Office of Technology Licensing, FloridaWorks and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. That program, which concluded in 2011, resulted in three new companies based on UF technologies.
The STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and math — have historically been dominated by men.
“In our working lives, we’d all had the experience of being the only woman in the room,” Muir said. “There’s no good reason for this since every one of us knows smart, highly capable women who could make meaningful contributions to the STEM fields.”
For more information, visit www.ewits.org.
Women interested in future information sessions can register here for updates once dates for the next program are announced: http://ewitswaitlist.eventbrite.com/
Here are some of the teams’ technologies:
The University of Florida is one of the nation's largest public universities. A member of the Association of American Universities, UF posted research expenditures totaling $740 million in 2011. Through its research and other activities, UF contributes more than $8.76 billion a year to Florida's economy and is responsible for generating more than 100,000 jobs statewide. University of Florida Research: Working for Florida.
- Meghan Meyer
- Jane Muir, email@example.com