task force, AWE

Austin Women Entrepreneurs Task Force Created To Help Fight Bias In Business Practices

Women in leadership roles face biases that impede their success in the workplace. According to the American Association of University Women, old biases that favor masculine leadership traits are often looked down upon when exhibited by a woman. Women of color especially face obstacles that reduce the likelihood of obtaining a leadership role.

The Center for American Progress reported in a 2021 study that Black women lose an estimated $964,400 to the wage gap over a 40-year career. 

Mayor Kirk Watson recently announced the Austin Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) task force to combat inequalities in leadership. According to The Austin Chronicle, the task force aims to provide women access to entrepreneurial spaces by creating programs, access to higher education, and business partnerships. 

Carla McDonald, founder and managing director of investment firm Dynabrand Ventures, is the chair for AWE. 

Current members include Lauren Wash­ing­ton, co-founder of the AI investing platform Fundr; Cristina Silingardi, former VP of consulting firm vcfo; Jan Ryan, founder of consulting practice 3Hills Group; and Mellie Price, founder of investment firm Purposeful Capital with additional members to be added in the future. 

Washington spoke on the experience of being a woman in a leadership role and how AWE will support women seeking leadership. “There are very specific things that you experience as a woman in this industry, and as a woman of color in this industry, that you need to have support in order to navigate,” she said. “Generalized advice is not going to necessarily help me move forward, so being able to create community and resources to navigate a system that wasn’t necessarily made for you is incredibly important.”

She added that the task force is “…really about creating a more even playing field for people so that they have the opportunity to bring their dreams to life.”

Washington and Watson view Austin, Texas, as a place with great networking opportunities and abundant resources for female entrepreneurs; however, there are still present obstacles women have to overcome. Watson said in a statement, “We’re shifting Austin’s economic development paradigm to be unapologetically focused on helping all Austinites be a part of the prosperity of our city.” “That includes making Austin the best city in the world for women entrepreneurs to start and build businesses,” she continued. 

Watson believes AWE is essential to achieve goals for the Austin economy and has aspirations for the task force to address additional concerns such as child care.