There could not be a more appropriate day to announce the launch of a new European project to increase the share of female graduate entrepreneurs. On International Women’s Day 2021, the Irish partners of the WeRin project, Women Entrepreneurs in Regional Inclusive Ecosystems, Munster Technological University, the Rubicon Centre and Momentum Educate + Innovate, announce their ambition to make entrepreneurship education and support programmes more inclusive.
Given that women represent about 60% the HEI graduates, their under-representation amongst start-ups is a very clear challenge. Despite a rise in participation of female students in entrepreneurship education at Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s), they still lag behind compared to their male counterparts. Even when they have participated in entrepreneurship education, they are less likely to move towards actual entrepreneurial careers after they graduate. And when they do, these graduate female entrepreneurs are less well embedded in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem: fewer of them participate in local incubation and acceleration programmes, seek and receive funding and are active in regional enterprise networks.
A pioneering European initiative, WeRIn brings together 14 partners from 6 countries. Funded by the ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliance programme for a three-year timeframe, WeRIn partners have ambitious plans to enhance the inclusivity of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems and embeddedness of female entrepreneurs therein, through the design of more inclusive academic and non-academic entrepreneurship education and support programmes.
There will be many opportunities to get involved and benefit from WeRIn. Helen McGuirk, Head, Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence, School of Business, Munster Technological University explains. “It is an exciting time to put the spotlight on increasing the share of female graduate entrepreneurs. WeRIn is packed with opportunities for other educators, policy makers, funding bodies and bodies working to increase levels of female entrepreneurs. Over the next three years, we will work on profiling good practices and needs analysis, regional reports on current state of gender inclusivity, local and international Think-tanks, testing innovative new approaches through WeRLearnIn Principles, the WeRLearnIn Approach, WeRIn Nudges and the WeRIn Toolbox, a Knowledge Portal, International Capacity Building Sessions and Communities of Practice”.
Orla Casey, Founder of Momentum Educate + Innovate explains the project has very tangible targets “together with our EU colleagues, we are intent on making an impact. We aim to increase share female participation in entrepreneurship education by 15% and in entrepreneurship support programmes by 20% of consortium partners three years after completion of the project. Our project title could not be more appropriate – We R In is a statement of intent”.