Entrepreneurial Institute

Woman Up - The Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

Pilar Harris (Gallatin '15) and Cadence Daniels (School of Engineering '18) are the founding Co-Presidents of Women on Entrepreneurship (WoE) at NYU. Together they’re working to connect female NYU students with on-campus startup resources.


Two weeks ago, the Leslie eLab hosted an event called Woman Up, co-produced by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, the College of Arts and Sciences Entrepreneurs Association (CASEA), NYC Lean In at NYU, and Women of Entrepreneurship (WoE). The goal was to gather experienced women innovators for a discussion on startup culture and the best practices for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

“The beginning of my entrepreneurial journey was two girls having fun, thinking as big as possible about how we could make changes.”
- Marissa Feinberg, Mission Hub LLC, @marissafeinberg

Marissa Feinberg, PR and Brand Director of Mission Hub LLC, shared her career insights as she lead an interactive keynote. With over a decade of entrepreneurial experience, she’s observed that women succeed when they focus on how they can be the best versions of themselves in the midst of men who do the same. She suggests that young women ignore the current designated traits for successful women leaders: being “assertive, outspoken and direct.”

What does it mean to be the only woman in the room?
How can we produce meaningful connections between women and men in the workplace?

Across industries, from consumer goods to venture capital, women are working hard to establish themselves and build lasting networks. In a stimulating panel discussion based on experience, four dynamic women founders and investors inspired guests with the following lessons learned:

  1. Building a diverse network is so important, especially while you’re a student. You never know who you’ll need to know. (Xiaochang Li, @xiaochang)
  2. You don’t need funding in order to call yourself an entrepreneur. All you need to have is a problem that you’re ready to solve. (Susan Zheng, @susanxzheng)
  3. Not every woman is going to be helpful. People are busy. But there are women who are dedicated to helping, so just reach out. (Melissa Mash, @melissashinmash)
  4. How to get respect in a room full of men? When you walk into the room, be sharp and be prepared to speak the language of business. (Brittany Laughlin, @br_ttany)

When considering the advantages of being a woman, all panelists agreed that right now is a great time to be a female founder, especially with the abundance of resources and opportunities for collaboration available at NYU. Brittany Laughlin shared, “I used to be the token, and now that’s changing. There are lots of special opportunities just for women, even in the tech space.”

As a budding student organization, WoE is thrilled to be surrounded by the growing community of NYU entrepreneurs, both male and female, who are incredibly resourceful, engaged, and inclusive. At Woman Up, we learned that there is no better place or time to develop the skills for entrepreneurial success than right now.