Just Own It conference at Brescia to welcome 300 local high school girls for a day focused on female entrepreneurship

News Release
January 15, 2015

London, ON – Brescia University College is thrilled to announce a one-of-a-kind event taking place at Canada’s only women’s university on Friday, February 20, 2015. The Just Own It conference will welcome close to 300 girls and young women from six different school boards across the southwestern Ontario region for a day of exploring and skill building specific to entrepreneurial possibilities for women. Just Own It will provide high school girls with the opportunity to be exposed to, explore, and experience entrepreneurship.

Conference organizers, Associate Professors Colleen Sharen and Melissa Jean, are excited to see the concept come to fruition. Sharen explains, “In primary school, girls have equal desire to be entrepreneurs. By high school, girls are 30% less likely than boys to want to be an entrepreneur. By university, only 18% of entrepreneurs are young women. And less than 8% of businesses employing more than 100 people are owned solely by or majority owned by women. Through Just Own It, we’re helping girls explore entrepreneurship as a career choice, one where they can be creative, do something they love, and be prosperous.”

The Principal at Brescia, Dr. Colleen Hanycz, says, “Brescia is well positioned to deliver a new entrepreneur program that will redress these alarming statistics. We already have extensive experience working with high school girls and boards of education, and we have established an impressive track record in developing and delivering successful curricular and extracurricular experiential learning activities in entrepreneurship. We also have strong relationships with young and established female entrepreneurs and mentors in the community.”

Objectives of the conference include: promoting entrepreneurship as a career option for girls; raising awareness of and engaging high school aged girls in entrepreneurship through exploration and by providing exposure to young female role models; increasing girls’ confidence in their entrepreneurial abilities; increasing participation in Ontario and community-based youth entrepreneurship programming; and building young women’s awareness of Brescia as an institution of choice for their post-secondary education.

Melissa McInerney, who is the CEO of tbk Creative, a local web design and social media marketing agency and will be at the conference on February 20 as a mentor, says, “Entrepreneurship looks very different for different people. If you’re artistic, it can be the most creative outlet you find. If you’re technical, you’ll enjoy using your problem solving skills to make people’s lives better. If you’re a leader, you will enjoy leading your staff and clients to greatness.”

Sarah Landstreet is the sole owner and operator of Georgette Packaging. It was only a few years ago she was a bakery owner struggling to find attractive functional boxes for her cupcakes. Sarah, who has helped many Brescia students in her role at Brescia as an ‘Entrepreneur-in-residence’, sees opportunities such as this one as essential for young women. She explains, “Entrepreneurship, to me, is about bravery. It’s about throwing myself into tricky situations and collecting all the lessons that blossomed along the way, and emerging stronger and cleverer. It’s about dreaming up an adventure and building the tools within myself to go after it. I think, when girls in particular are in adventure mode, they make the most of it.”

Included in this initiative will be an academic research component, aimed at understanding more fully how to prepare and encourage young women for entrepreneurship by evaluating the effectiveness of our programming.

Just Own It will be hosted at Brescia on Friday, February 20 beginning at 9:00 a.m. with opening remarks and the keynote address beginning at 9:30 a.m. Media are welcome to attend and parking will be free for the day. To learn more about the Just Own It conference, visit  http://brescia.uwo.ca/justownit/.

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For more information please contact Colleen Aguilar, Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer at 519.432.8353, ext. 28280 or at colleen.aguilar@uwo.ca. You may also contact Sheila Blagrave, Director Communications, Marketing & External Relations at 519-432-8353, ext. 28293 or at sblagrav@uwo.ca. Brescia University College, Canada’s only women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,275 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room at http://media.bresciauc.ca/category/in-the-news/