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Where Are The Female Entrepreneurs?

The whole subject of woman entrepreneurs is one I have stayed far away from. I don’t think of myself as a female entrepreneur any more than I think of myself as a female shopper when I’m at a store, a female concert goer when I’m at SXSW or a female exerciser when I’m running around the lake. I’m uncomfortable with the label because it doesn’t seem relevant. The focus should be on the company and our product, not on the founder. Who cares if I’m male or female?

On other hand, I was on my third company before I thought of myself as an entrepreneur at all. I am a female entrepreneur and even if I’m willing to close my eyes and pretend there is no difference between me and fellow male entrepreneurs, the first thing people notice when I do my pitch is that I’m female.

And then there is this:

How It Works - XKCD

How It Works - XKCD

So despite my reservations, I enrolled in and have just graduated from a wonderful program through Texas State University called “ACTiVATE” which is a year long mentoring program to help mid-career women start companies. From their website:

The original ACTiVATE® program was created at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where classes continue to be offered. One of the goals of the program was to duplicate it in other regions of the country and for other groups underrepresented in entrepreneurship. Consistent with this goal, UMBC has licensed the ACTiVATE® program to the Path Forward Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (PFCIE), a not-for-profit organization that is focused on expanding the program nationally and internationally. With the October 2009 launch of the ACTiVATE® program at Texas State in Austin, Texas, PFCIE is well underway in its expansion efforts.

It is a wonderful program and I was interviewed by one of the program’s founders, Julie Lenzer Kirk, for “Enterprising Women” magazine recently.

Enterprising Women Oct 2010

This is not something that would have happened without the program. My natural inclination is to avoid this sort of thing. I’m an introvert although I have learned over the years to behave like an extrovert when needed. I’m willing to do it when it’s what is best for my company but it’s not the most fun thing in the world to do. So maybe there are more female entrepreneurs out there, but like me, they need to do a better job of getting noticed.