Entrepreneurship in New Reality program – Summary of the 5th webinar

19. 02. 2021

“Get it wrong and try again!”

The Entrepreneurship in the New Reality – Fifth Webinar

On Tuesday, February 16th, the fifth webinar in Entrepreneurship in the new reality program was held. Our guests were Kristi Dula from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (US), Abigail Ingram from Women in Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University (US), Emilija Stojmenova Duh from Faculty of electrical engineering University of Ljubljana (SI) and Edita Krajnović from Mediade (SI). The webinar was moderated by Tjaša Sobočan from CEED Slovenija (SI).

The guests were discussing women in the STEAM fields in both the US and EU or Slovenia and their main focus was the opportunities presented for women in aforementioned fields. They said that there is a vast potential for new businesses for women after the pandemic. We have also learnt that the key element to success is asking questions. During the webinar the guests also received some very interesting and in-depth questions from the attendees.

Entrepreneurship in the New Reality program brings together top local, regional and US experts who, in a series of 10 free moderated webinars, shared with the audience professional know-how and entrepreneurial experience in order to encourage entrepreneurs to grow, prosper and find new business methods for the future. The program is organised by GEA College Ljubljana in cooperation with of the Embassy of the United States of America in Slovenia.

How to support women entrepreneurship during the pandemic?

Numbers show that the pandemic has significantly affected women in science too, not just in entrepreneurship. Women in STEAM fields have been exposed to extra challenges during the pandemic, so how can we support and encourage them?

Kristi Dula: “There are of course different ways to do that. We could look for mentorships or different kinds of programmes that support women in entrepreneurship. I would perhaps add that we also need community support. But don’t forget to set the goals and use metrics to assess them. We should also always look at our women role models who inspire us through these uncertain timesT.”

There are some other ways to support and help women in times like these, because it is obvious that home-schooling and other consequences have taken its toll on them. Maybe it’s now time for employers to step in and find out what their employees need, otherwise they may end up leaving. According to both Kristi and Abigail, we are soon going to see a lot more women choosing an entrepreneurial career, so that they do not have to work for somebody else anymore.

Abigail Ingram: “It is no secret that women are in general are given fewer leadership opportunities and less exposure to business and finance. So what we are trying to achieve, is help build the business acumen behind their business ideas. It is also important to connect women entrepreneurs to funders. But essentially, we train women who have businesses to earn more money.”

What are the best practices in Slovenia in introducing and promoting women in STEAM?

Slovenia has many innovative potential among women. CEED Slovenia just launched the Academy for women entrepreneurs (AWE) program so there are initiatives that offer a supporting environment. However, we struggle to promote those ideas.

Some great programmes that support women in science and entrepreneurship have emerged in the last couple of years in Slovenia and I am very pleased with that. I can say the glass ceiling has been lifted a bit but we are not there yet. Let me point out a different kind of problem: When we talk about engineers and scientists, we have done a terrible job in conveying what they bring to the table for a society. And the best way to do this is actually through role models so that people, especially youth, can see what great things those experts do and that this could also be their life. Now, speaking of role models, one of the best that I know is our fellow guest today, Emilija, 2018’s Engineer of the year,” said Edita Krajnović.

Through various research processes Canadian professor Mary Wells has found out that young women scientists, engineers etc. do not choose their career paths because of the great prospects in those fields, but rather because of the role models they have met along the way.

Women face three major issues. The first is the imposter syndrome, meaning women do not believe in their capabilities in achieving great things. The second is career-life balance. A lot of women, especially in Slovenia, can’t pursue their careers after the educational years due to the family planning etc. The third issue is a glass ceiling. Most leadership positions still belong to men and it is much more difficult for women to break through because of that.

Emilija Stojmenova Duh: “When I was in the Hidden No More-programme (State Department program for women in STEM), I have met so many wonderful women from 49 different countries and we all shared basically the same experience. But the best thing I have learned there is you should always ask questions. I have always been shy and afraid to ask questions but in reality, that is what we must do. You can only get no for an answer.”

What could European women entrepreneurs learn from the American and vice versa?

On international or individual business level US people can learn from Slovenia that there has to be an international lens to their business from the beginning. Because American markets are so huge, we neglect that aspect and think only about selling to the US market. In Slovenia, however, it’s just the opposite. On an ecosystem level, the US should learn from Slovenia about the overwhelming government support for entrepreneurial endeavour that’s available across the EU.

From the US perspective, I think the benefit we have is this “get it wrong and try again” mentality. We aren’t afraid of the failure,” concluded Abigail Ingram.

After a very interesting hour, the guests concluded that the most important things for women in STEAM and entrepreneurship is having strong allies, being confident in asking questions, believing in one’s own abilities and forming as many relationships as you can, be it a mentorship or people in your field because that way you will never stop learning.

We would love to invite you to the sixth webinar: Digitalisation – a universe of potential for start-ups? This will take place on: 23rd February at 5.30 PM CET. In this free webinar, we will focus on opportunities presented by technology for entrepreneurs and discuss the ways that society can embrace digitalisation in the future without compromising worth and values. Our guests in this panel will be Michael Goldberg (Case Western Reserve University, US), Urška Saletinger (Abelium, SI) and Mario Spremić (GEA College and University of Zagreb, HR). They will present new digitalisation potential that is developing with great speed, and explain the differences between the EU, the US and other prominent players in the digital world in terms of business opportunities and digital development. The moderator of the webinar will be Jure Verhovnik (4DPIH,SI).

You can apply here: https://mba.gea-college.si/module-6-digitalisation-a-universe-of-potential-for-startups/


We are proud to be part of this great program that will be carried out in partnership with:

This project was funded, in part, through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State.
Entrepreneurship in new reality is a tailored-made project, aimed at sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas among entrepreneurs in the times of new reality. It aims to promote cross-national collaboration, facilitate development of new business and enhance Trans-Atlantic perspective.



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