About Annie Wilson

Annie Wilson serves as the VP of Outreach for Cal Poly Women in Business and is the Editor of the WIB Wire. Annie will graduate in June with a degree in Finance and a minor in Law and Society. Her passion for writing derives from her internship with an advocacy group for female entrepreneurs, where she wrote for their weekly blog. Annie’s role models include Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her mother, Cindy. In her free time, Annie enjoys any opportunity to travel and taking her two dogs to the beach.

The Lack of Mentorship for Working Women

Mentor

by Annie Wilson, Intern

In today’s modern business world, it is widely accepted that mentorship relationships can be beneficial, especially in the context of career mobility. Young professionals can benefit from mentorship as a way to elevate their career status and attain high level positions in their company or obtain a second opinion for their career strategy. For entrepreneurs, mentorship can help a company thrive immensely by just having the benefit of vetted experience and advice that a mentor can provide. This advising can be crucial in the startup phase of a business as mentorship advice is an incredible asset to tap into in the preliminary stages of business development. With more and more startups and entrepreneurial activity in today’s modern world, mentorship is as crucial as ever for eager young business owners who are looking to start their own business.

However, historically it has been more difficult for women to have accessibility to mentors as opposed to men and this trend has been made clear in a number of ways. Peggy Drexler, a gender and business blogger for Forbes, outlines the current state of female mentorship in her recent article, “Can Women Succeed Without a Mentor?” In her findings, she reports that according to a 2011 McKinsey Report 53% of entry level positions are occupied by female employees but, as the jobs increase in caliber, female representation starkly declines at 37% for mid manager positions and 26% for vice president positions and above. This decline leaves a disproportional ratio of potential mentors to mentees and purports that with fewer women occupying higher level positions, there are fewer women eligible to mentor. Another factor in female mentorship is that women often feel as though they cannot allocate the appropriate time and effort to mentor somebody due to familial time constraints. In fact, a study from the American Psychological Association reported that the female figure that young women wanted to emulate the most were working executives who balanced their professional and family lives. However, this was the group that had the least time to mentor. An additional explanation to the lack of female to female mentorship sources from the problem that mentorship benefits are not being made readily apparent to mentee candidates. According to networking organization Levo League, 95% of millennials have never sought out a mentor. Perhaps this trend stems from the generational attitude towards self-sustainability in the workplace that is commonly associated with the millennial generation or that workplace environments are not making an effort to forge these relationships. According to the 2010-2011 World Economic Forum Report assessing gender diversity in 20 countries, only 59% of companies said they led internal mentoring programs and only 28% of companies had programs specific for women. Even if one of these factors holds truth in a working environment, female mentorship can clearly be difficult to obtain.

A mentor-mentee relationship can be a mutually beneficial for both participants. Mentees gain the benefit of learning from the mentor’s own processes in their early stages and the lessons and learning opportunities can be extremely impactful for a developing young professional. However, the mentor benefits in a very clear way as well. Mentors are often forced to change their way of managing and teaching to best communicate with their mentee, especially if there is a generational difference. The mentor may become more confident and efficient in working with younger professionals in general and their management skills as an aging professional are given an added dimension of flexibility. Not to mention, working with a mentee opens up a whole new professional network that a mentor can have better access to. Many mentors also see mentorship as a way to give back to the industry they invested their career in and as a way to perpetuate their work ethic and methods into the generations to come.

Barbara Corcoran, co-founder of Corcoran Venture Partners and investor on the hit show Shark Tank, reveals 3 traits to look out for when finding a mentor:

  1. “Choose a mentor you want to be like, not just someone you like. When you choose a mentor, pick someone you wish to emulate. It’s their “know-how” you wish to learn, and you learn more when you respect who’s teaching.
  2. Look for a mentor who is brutally honest. Compliments are always nice, but they won’t propel you to greatness. You need a mentor who won’t hesitate to give you difficult feedback—someone quick to call out your strengths andyour weaknesses.”
  3. Choose a mentor who has also failed. I fail often and fail well, and I’ve learned how to sniff out great success in the midst of failure. Sharing that belief can keep your company bold and motivated and miles ahead of everyone else afraid of failing.”

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor or finding one, ask around in your work environment to see if there are any ongoing programs that your company offers. If not, check out this great article giving advice on how to find a mentor or these mentorship organizations:

Meet the World’s Youngest Self-Made Female Billionaire: Elizabeth Holmes.

by Annie Wilson, InternEH

According to Forbes, Elizabeth Holmes has been named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Earlier this month she was named as Time Magazine’s List of 100 most influential people. Her billion dollar idea?: a revolutionary way to make blood testing accessible for anybody. Holmes’ company, Theranos, created a system that brings together a minimally invasive and needle free method of blood withdrawal with hundreds of low cost tests that almost anyone could afford. Holmes’ intention is to restructure our healthcare system to be more preventative as opposed to a reactive:

“The current health care paradigm is one in which diagnosis often takes place after symptoms are already present, and diseases have begun to progress. We’re committed to changing that. We’re pioneering a new paradigm in which lab testing is accessible and affordable for everyone. When cost is no longer a consideration and people no longer have to be symptomatic in order to get a test. Meaning your patients can get the tests they need, and you can get the information you need, early and in time for therapy to be effective.” – Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos website

Holmes attended Stanford University but dropped out at the age of 19 to start Theranos in 2003. Since then, Holmes has impressed investors with the potential commercial, military, and humanitarian applications of her idea. Holmes has also acquired a very impressive board of directors, including former cabinet secretaries George Shultz, Bill Perry and Henry Kissinger, two former Senators, a retired CentCom commander, a retired Navy admiral and a former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She has rapidly developed her company since 2003 and has notably partnered with Walgreens to build thousands of Wellness Centers for Theranos to carry out its testing. To date, Theranos has also accumulated $92 million in venture capital funding from investors like Larry Ellison and Draper Fisher Jurvetson with her first venture capital funding worth $5.8 million in 2005 at the age of 21. Holmes owns 84 patents to her name and Theranos is estimated to be worth $9 billion with Holmes owning half of its stock.

If you want to learn more about Elizabeth Holmes:

  • Click here for a video about how she came up with her business idea.
  • Click here for a timeline of Theranos’ conception
  • Click here to watch a TED Talk given by Holmes about the importance of early detection

SBA’s Announcement of the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge and Summit

FeatureInnovateHER

By Annie Wilson, Intern

On Tuesday, August 4th the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit. In partnership with Microsoft, the 2016 InnovateHER includes the second round of the women’s business competition to feature new, innovative products and services that help to change and empower the lives of women and families. Last year, the SBA engaged over 100 organizations and reached 1000+ entrepreneurs around the country and this year they have expanded their challenge to include a women’s summit.

It is the SBA’s hope that through this summit they can unveil products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fulfill a marketplace need and have potential for commercialization. The SBA recognizes that while women control 80% of the purchasing power in this country they only make up less than 5% of venture capitalists. The InnovateHER Challenge is an effort to bridge that economic standard for women and elevate commercial success for women entrepreneurs and products for women.

The InnovateHER event will kick off in the fall of 2015 in its initial round starting with competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, resource partners and other organizations. The SBA is encouraging organizations all across the country to participate in this challenge to provide accessibility to an innovative space for women. A way in which organizations can help the InnovateHER challenge and women entrepreneurs within their community is to host a local business competition and submit the winner to the SBA no later than December 3rd, 2015 for the semi final rounds. The SBA will then select up to 10 semifinalists from their community nominations that will be sent to the final pitch competition. The 2016 InnovateHER and final pitch competition will be held March 16-17th, 2016 in Washington D.C. At the final competition, the remaining contestants will do one final marketing pitch and compete to be one of the top three winners to receive up to $70,000 in prize money.

Make sure to check out last year’s winners: LIA Diagnostics, the Shower Shirt, and Trusst.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge rules or how to become a host organization, please click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge itself, please click here.