Women Entrepreneurs Interviews: Corinne Warnshuis
By Colin McEvoy on November 11, 2014
It’s no secret there’s a gender gap in the tech industry. A new study by Catalyst shows while a large number of women are graduating with technical degrees, few return to tech-intensive jobs after graduation, and more women than men are leaving the industry due to factors like lack of role models and feeling like an outsider.
Girl Develop It is changing that. The non-profit organization with chapters in 45 cities provides accessible programs and hands-on instruction to women seeking to code and build their own web and mobile applications, improving their careers and confidence in the process. It has taught over 14,000 women and has 29,000 members across the country.
Corinne Warnshuis became Girl Develop It’s first executive director this summer, after running its Philadelphia chapter for two years. She also previously worked for the Technical.ly news network, an online publication that covers local technology issues.
Corinne is one of four panelists the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.’s (LVEDC) Innovation, Talent and Entrepreneurship Council will spotlight on November 19 as part of their panel event “Creating Space: How Women Entrepreneurs Succeed.”
As the event approaches, we will be asking each of the panelists a few questions about their backgrounds and experiences in the business world. Here is what Corinne had to say:
LVEDC: What do you think the biggest challenge is for women who want to start a business?
Corinne Warnshuis: There are many challenges, as with any person starting a business, but women in particular face an incredible challenge around finding funding. It may not be the biggest challenge, per se, but it can be a huge roadblock. Specifically in the tech industry, women received only 7 percent of all venture capital funding for their startups in the United States.
LVEDC: What do you believe are the top qualities of a strong female business leader?
Corinne Warnshuis: I think being self-aware is absolutely essential for being a strong leader. Understanding people and being a good communicator is also vital. In general, women tend to undervalue their own expertise (and face “impostor syndrome”), so “owning” the role of leader is also very important. On the other hand, knowing when to ask questions and not being afraid to admit when you don’t have the answer is also important.
LVEDC: What advice would you give to women who are considering starting their own business?
Corinne Warnshuis: Build up your professional network, and find people who you can count on to help you along. Learn the skills you’ll need and find a good team to support you.
LVEDC: What is your goal for your business in the next 3 to 5 years?
Corinne Warnshuis: Our goal at Girl Develop It is not only to increase the number of women developers, but to create long-term, lasting change in the tech industry. And I’m happy to say that we’re doing it. Girl Develop It has 29,000 members nationwide. In four short years, we’ve introduced 13,000 women to programming. In our communities across the country, women are empowering themselves and in turn giving back and empowering others. It’s really exciting to see and to be a part of.
LVEDC: What more should be done to encourage women to pursue business leadership opportunities?
Corinne Warnshuis: Not only women, but men need to take an active role in helping bolster the careers of talented women — specifically women of color — by supporting them climbing the ranks of leadership at their companies. Company-wide internal programs can be very helpful to create a network around this goal. Having experience within a business can empower women to go on to build their own businesses.
Click here for more information about the upcoming panel, which celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international celebration of innovators and job creators running from November 17 to 23.
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