Today's digital workforce offers both chances and challenges for women entrepreneurs. On March 14, in celebration of Women's History Month, the American Women's Club of Hamburg and the U.S. Consulate General of Hamburg sponsored a lecture on the topic as part of a broader effort to encourage female economic empowerment in Germany and farther a field.
Melissa Fisher, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor at New York University, shared fascinating stories of hurdles female entrepreneurs of the Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial generations have overcome.
Women on Wall Street in the 1970s and '80s, for instance, entered a workspace that was heavily male-dominated. They fought hard to extend equal rights into Wall Street institutions. But the 1990s and 2000s saw a whole new range of challenges as financial-technology (fintech) start-ups developed their own new boys' club. Challenges as well as opportunities remain today.
Dr. Fisher didn't just tell engaging stories. She devoted the second half of her lecture to the importance of networks. She offered concrete examples of networking groups in finance, technology and business from which women worldwide can benefit.
To name just a few: Springboard Enterprises (https://sb.co) is a network of innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth, technology-oriented companies led by women. Ellevate https://www.ellevatenetwork.com) is a fast-growing global network of professional women founded by Sallie Krawcheck, a banker recently named the most powerful woman on Wall Street. And Girls who Code (https://girlswhocode.com) is a non-governmental organization that aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science by teaching computing and programming skills to young girls.
U.S. Consul General Rick Yoneoka delivered an inspiring introduction to the lecture, and a lively discussion followed. AWCH hopes to sponsor further events related to women's economic empowerment in coming months – particularly in the run-up to the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg this July. Since 2015, the G20 includes women’s issues on its agenda, with the goal of promoting a more gender-inclusive global economy.
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General, Hamburg’s Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW), the AWCH and the Landesfrauenrat Hamburg e.V., the event drew a diverse crowd of roughly 60 women (and a few men) with backgrounds in finance, technology, education, music and the arts, medicine and parenting.
(from left to right: Marinell H, Mary Frances L, Shelly S, Petra V, Kathrin Y, Dr. Melissa Fischer, Suzana Z, Kil Ja B, Marion L)