Women’s Entrepreneurship Day encourages women in business

By Guadalupe Pinedo

Cal Poly Pomona hosted Women’s Entrepreneurship Day for the first time on Nov. 30 in the Bronco Student Center. WED is a worldwide movement that is organized annually by the United Nations.

Celebrated in 144 countries, WED is a day to recognize female entrepreneurs. The conference provided women with the necessary tools to start up their businesses. A number of sessions were set up throughout the day to help women make their ideas into reality.

Various CPP students, staff and faculty organized the conference. Smart start workshops, panel discussions and various keynote speeches were some of the resources available to attendees.

Pachet Bryant, a fourth-year apparel merchandising and management student, was one of the student organizers.

“I want females to leave this conference feeling as if they are more equipped and more knowledgeable to start their business ideas,” said Bryant.

Bryant explained that this global initiative should empower women and girls. It should help them to not only think about business ideas, but also help them expand their knowledge and give them the tools they need to launch their businesses.

“We’re hoping to target women, especially with the young female population. We are hoping that they start getting their ideas going,” said Bryant, “I want them to be excited because they know who they can go to to make it a reality.”

In the summer of 2015, the Student Innovation Idea Lab was founded. The goal of the iLab is to provide CPP students the tools they need to be able to successfully launch their business plans.

Olukemi Sawyerr, director of the iLab, was one of the WED organizers and she explained that many male students take advantage of the iLab. It was important to provide female students with tools that would help them with their specific needs.

“We wanted to do something that highlights female entrepreneurs,” said Sawyerr, “It’s a day to recognize female entrepreneurs to discuss women’s issues, whatever challenges that they face globally, particularly related to starting their own companies and being successful entrepreneurs.”

WED started off with opening remarks from University President Soraya M. Coley. She expressed that it is important for the university to encourage all students to pursue their dreams and be successful.

“It is important that we continually put the message out that what we are about is encouraging people to develop their potential. We need individuals to contribute to the advancement of not only our country, but continue the advancement of the world,” said Coley.

The Smart Start Workshop featured Donna Lilly, former president of the American Association of University Women. She presented her workshop on salary negotiation.

Lilly’s workshop provided a list of steps that women should follow to be able to successfully negotiate their salaries. The first step is knowing one’s worth; she shared various online sites that help determine how much an individual should be paid depending on his or her level of education.

“I’m just giving you a few hints and why I think negotiating and knowing how to negotiate your salary is extremely important,” said Lilly.

The AAUW provided attendees with a booklet titled “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap.” It gives readers a glimpse of the pay gap that still exists.

According to AAUW data, in 2015, women that worked full time in the United States were paid 80 percent of what men were paid. The gap is getting smaller due to women’s higher education and demand for equal pay. It is expected that by 2059 the pay gap should no longer exist.

“I negotiate my salary every day and I get as much as a man every day,” said Lilly.

The panel discussion featured four women who have all successfully started their own businesses. A pitch competition was also featured at the conference. Competitors had to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and would receive feedback.

The keynote speakers for the conference were Senator Connie Leyva and Ngoc Nguyen Lay.

“We want to put good female role models out so that CPP women can see these female role models and go, ‘You know what, if she can do it, I can do it,'” said Sawyerr.


Guadalupe Pinedo / The Poly Post

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

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