According to The Kauffman Foundation, some of the major obstacles facing women entrepreneurs are a lack of mentors, implicit bias, and a lack of access to venture capital. Cornell University is hoping to change that and is taking a stand for women in STEM fields with its W.E. Cornell program.
Led by program coordinator Dr. Andrea Ippolito, the university’s new W.E. Cornell program will address the “persistent underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs in STEM fields.”
Per a university press release, program participants will gain valuable networking, mentorship, and leadership development opportunities.
“The W.E. Cornell program is on a mission to shatter the glass ceiling for STEM women entrepreneurs. There are more women researchers joining the ranks in science and technology, but there is still an immense gap when it comes to STEM women leading startups and serving as entrepreneurs,” Dr. Ippolito told us through an email correspondence.
The program will be open to women pursuing graduate degrees in STEM fields and run from November through April with an inaugural cohort of ten students. In addition to the experience provided by the program, participants will be receive a $3,000 travel stipend to meet with potential customer bases and pitch their projects to investors.
But this program would not be possible if Dr. Ippolito hadn’t stepped in to help.
Dr. Ippolito carries an impressive resume, holding a B.S. in Bio Engineering and Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell, as well as a Master’s in Engineering & Management from MIT.
But it is her personal experiences which truly helped shape W.E. Cornell. As the executive director of Cornell’s engineering management program, Dr. Ippolito noticed a stark underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship classrooms and programs at the school.
She even built on her own experience as a graduate student at Cornell, saying encouragement from her academic advisor spurred her on. The first program she built, Smart Scheduling, is used by several hundred healthcare professionals across the United States.
Dr. Ippolito has also garnered praise from Tom Schryver, executive director of Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Mr. Schryver told the Cornell Chronicle that “[Dr.] Ippolito is uniquely qualified to lead W.E. Cornell. Not only is she an engineer and experienced startup founder, she began her entrepreneurial journey at the same point at which many of the program participants will find themselves.”
As Dr. Ippolito told us, “The W.E. Cornell program is rallying STEM women and empowering a cohort of leaders interested in the different paths of the entrepreneurship journey: founder, early startup joiner and tech lead.”
W.E. Cornell is a program built “by women, for women” and funded through a grant by the President’s Council of Cornell Women. Mentors for program participants may be female or male and will represent some of the greatest minds in STEM. Dr. Ippolito can’t wait to have them join.
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