Entrepreneurship now enters European universities through curricula and start-up support systems. Women represent around 50% of students at universities but are very much un-represented in terms of scientific or entrepreneurial careers. Which specific problems prevent women in science choosing this career? Why are entrepreneurship support structures in universities unable to encourage women to think about an entrepreneurial career?
FemStart aims to foster public debate on this issue based on the experience of the EU Network ProWomEn, which investigated the promotion of women entrepreneurship in general but could not consider the issue of women scientists starting a business in detail. Public debate on women entrepreneurship is very controversial as common opinion is that there is no need for special support structures for women. But statistics on the number of women starting a company or receiving start-up support show a vast under-representation of women compared to their part in the working world and similarly for women in science and female scientists starting a company.
Research on these issues gives clear evidence that women do need special encouragement and are a target group for specific support measures to get involved in entrepreneurship. By organising a series of events at 6 universities in different European regions (South Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Latvia, Poland and Romania), FemStart will start a debate by inviting experts on entrepreneurship support and education, public body representatives and administrations from the local regions and nearby countries and regions.
Female scientists will be invited as well as male representatives from the university and public/private sectors. FemStart will raise awareness for the issue, deliver good practices and allow discussion among experts and non-experts on how to adapt existing measures to integrate women scientists in entrepreneurship support actions at universities better.
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