A cooperative alliance to build girls’ participation in entrepreneurship and STEM kicks off today as leaders from a range of sectors gather in Sydney as part of the Future Female Entrepreneurs Program.
Representatives from major international tech companies, Australian corporates, start-ups, incubators and the entrepreneurial community will discuss today how to work together to support more young women with great business ideas to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
The Future Female Entrepreneurs Program aims to build an industry alliance to assist girls and young women across Australia to develop entrepreneurship and STEM-based skills essential to the future of work. It is funded by an Australian Government grant, with matched funding to be secured from industry partners.
The meeting is one of a series of foundation workshops to inform the roll out of the Program, including co-design workshops with almost 200 girls aged 10 to 18 in Darwin, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as consultations with education experts.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are considered essential future workforce skills, yet 23 per cent of Australian girls did not know what an entrepreneur was, and 40 per cent could not name a female entrepreneur or business person.
Of those who could name a female entrepreneur, family and friends marginally outranked Hollywood reality TV stars.
The girls reported the biggest barriers to pursuing entrepreneurship were a lack of access to education and mentors (27 per cent), lack of confidence (24 per cent), and lack of female business role models (12 per cent).
“We want Australian girls to have the confidence that they can be the boss of their own company or leaders in the industries in which they work,” program spokesperson Annie O’Rourke said.
“Role models make a huge impact on young people. In our recent workshops with girls we found 40 per cent couldn’t name a female entrepreneur. You can’t be what you can’t see, so that’s why we’ll be connecting girls with real life role models to show them what is possible.
“There are so many great examples of women making an impact in business and innovation, and we want to help girls look beyond the Jenners and Kardashians and learn from some of our home-grown success stories.”
While STEM jobs in Australia are growing at a rapid 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years, boys still outnumber girls 3 to 1 in physics and almost 2 to 1 in advanced math classes.
In the workplace the divide is even greater, with women making up only 17 per cent of the STEM-qualified workforce in Australia.
COSBOA is proud to lead the Future Female Entrepreneurs Program on behalf of the small business sector as a critical measure to boost women’s leadership and participation in small business.
“Today’s 12-year-old girls will be the entrepreneurs and innovation workers of 2025. We must take action now to show Australian girls that anything is possible with the right skills, attitude and support,” COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said.
Girls will participate in an innovative entrepreneurship program designed to cultivate their skills in design thinking, coding and business skills via self-paced online learning, or as part of a national in-person workshop program. This will provide late primary school and high school girls with a pathway to further education and future employers.
The Program will launch in coming months. To find out more visit: https://www.futurefemaleentrepreneursprogram.com.au
Fleur Anderson, Fleur@89degreeseast.com, 0409 342890
Keely O’Brien, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0403 877 449
CONSULTATION AND SUPPORT
The Future Female Entrepreneurs Program thanks the following organisations for their support and feedback during this consultation phase.
Youth Entrepreneur Education Providers