Press Release: Women Top Men as Venture Team Winners, Says Girls With Impact Report

Findings reveal that, despite being only 18% of college participants, women make up the majority of winners in entrepreneurship competitions

Greenwich, CT, October 11, 2017 – While only 17.8% of participants in college venture competitions are women at one public university, women win most of the prize money.

A report by Girls with Impact, released on International Girls Day before a gathering of top business leaders, underscores the importance of early education and the opportunity for colleges and business leaders to prepare the next generation of female leaders.

“The results are startling,” says Jennifer Openshaw, CEO of Girls with Impact, the nation’s only entrepreneurship program just for girls. “Just a fraction of women participate in venture competitions, but they’re rising to the top – bringing powerful perspectives, experiences and new products. Yes, girls can gain – if given the tools.”

The report, The Entrepreneurship Talent Gap, finds:
Low participation rates – Of all participants over five years of college venture competitions, just 17.8% were young women

Big wins — Despite low participation rates, teams with women overwhelmingly win those competitions and take home the prize money ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 for first, second and third place teams.
Nine of 17 winning teams – or 53% — had at least at least one woman founder on the team (two tied for third).
2 out of 5 of the first place teams – or 40% — had women CEOs
3 out of 5 of the first place teams – 60% — had a woman founder.

In the Money — Among the first, second and third place winning teams – “Money teams” who win cash prizes ($5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 respectively) – 53% had a woman founder and 35% had a woman CEO.

Minority wins the majority – In short, although women comprise less than 20% of original participants, they make up 50%+ of the winning teams.

Women co-founded teams took home at least $90,000 of $160,000 in prize money.

The research is based on 299 team applications for a state university’s venture competitions, comprised of freshmen through Ph.D.

“The bottom line: it pays to have women on your team,” adds David Noble, executive director of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium at the University of Connecticut and co-author of the report. “Too many biases exist with the assumption that women aren’t as good as men. This is another nail in the gender bias coffin.”

The report points out that women face greater barriers to entering entrepreneurship. “Lower numbers of women entrepreneurs who are funded by growth investments means that women will miss out on a large amount of wealth generation opportunities, not only as entrepreneurs but in other innovative areas of the economy,” the report says.

“This is a call to action to businesses and policy leaders – to not just talk about talent, but to help shape the future pipeline,” said Openshaw, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author. “Every parent wants their daughter to reach her potential. With Girls with Impact, we can impact lives, communities, workplaces, and even economies.”

Download the report here. Learn how to partner here.


Supported by Houlihan Lawrence and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Girls with Impact is the only online, real-time entrepreneurship program for teen girls. It includes a 12-week, coach-led Academy to help girls create a business venture, ongoing mentoring through the monthly Boardroom, and a network to create the next generation of female talent. Watch why Jody feels powerful now. See what parents and policy leaders say.


Lorraine Zaccardo

Jennifer Openshaw, CEO