Do you want your daughter or workforce to thrive? If so, listen up.
A new report, Proving the Power of NextGen Women, finds college women actually outperform men in business settings.

The results have huge implications for parents, educators and business leaders.

If you’re not already familiar, many colleges conduct business competitions, where students can compete for real prize money – ranging from $3,000 to $100,000 – based on the viability of their business ideas.

The Girls With Impact report – based on data from three universities — finds that although women comprise just 22% of participants in these business competitions, 51% of the ranking teams – those coming in first, second or third place – had a woman founder.

Additionally, among the first-place winning teams, 32% had a woman CEO.

“What’s powerful is the comparison of the 22% of women participants to the 51% of ranking teams,” said George Brooks, Americas Leader for EY’s People Advisory Services, in discussing the report during a live briefing with leaders (watch the briefing replay).

“We need to do a 180 and re-think organizations to unleash the potential in these young women,” Brooks added.

“These girls have tremendous capabilities,” added CEO Jennifer Openshaw. “Parents and employers who want to get women to the top are doing a disservice if they don’t join us in equipping these girls.”

Why women outperform

Why is it that women are out-performing men?

David Noble, professor and director of the Werth Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Connecticut who also participated in the report’s release, said that “women are less likely to get involved in entrepreneurial programming before they have a well thought-out idea and team. So, they’re waiting to a later point to show up and get involved.”

Professor Noble adds that “Women-led teams and diverse teams visualize markets that male-only teams don’t see and don’t know. So, they’re getting more market breadth and building out solutions better for both men and women compared to male-centric teams and solutions.”

The report offers a host of recommendations, including:

Ensure early exposure to business – The entrepreneurial mindset is critical to both corporations and entrepreneurs, experts said. Enroll her in an after school program during high school to boost her confidence and equip her with essential skills for college and career success. These programs are often worth thousands and are crucial no matter what her area of interest might be.

Include nextgen women on teams – It’s not enough to have women in your firm; be sure they’re involved in innovation and meetings. They want purpose in their jobs. Don’t overlook their drive: According to EY, 30% of women-led companies target growth rates of more than 15% in the next 12 months vs just 5%.

Invest in STEEM, not just STEM Education – STEM creates the doers, but the “E” for entrepreneurship will ensure the development of leaders with the mindset to navigate in the Future of Work.

Jody Bell, 16, developed a business plan through Girls With Impact and then launched her venture, In Case of Deportation, giving her a giant leg-up for college and career.

“I can guarantee you that there are other high schoolers equally as driven, and if we give them the skills, they will become the future leaders we need right now,” she said during the briefing. (Watch Jody 11 minutes in )

Improve recruiting ROI – A whopping 60% of companies say new hires lack problem solving and critical thinking skills – as well as those soft, professional skills such as writing emails or presenting an idea.

Rather than “shooting from the hip” in recruiting efforts, consider partnering with organizations like Girls With Impact that reach younger to deliver critical skills training and help employers build a diverse talent pipeline. Not only can recruiting dollars be better targeted, but such programs provide employee engagement, community impact and branding opportunities.

Professor Noble says: “This is another nail in the business gender coffin. Companies that fail to turn to the next generation will miss out – pure and simple.”


Jennifer Openshaw, a nationally known financial innovator and commentator seen on Oprah and CNN, is CEO of Girls With Impact, the nation’s only tech-enabled mini-MBA turning teens into tomorrow’s CEOs and entrepreneurs. To partner, go here. Watch the Academy in Action