Popular Stanford GSB Course on Female Entrepreneurship Offers Lessons for All

The men who take a Stanford Graduate School of Business course on female entrepreneurship do so for the eye-opening exposure to some of the down-and-dirty aspects of starting your own business. Learning about the strategic and business challenges of entrepreneurship is great, but what about the expectations and emotions of starting a business? How does starting a company impact your personal life? What are you willing to give up to get your business off the ground?

While women are still the majority participants in the “Entrepreneurship from the Perspective of Women” course taught by Professor Fern Mandelbaum, that may change as word continues to spread of the “people issues” covered in the course, a recent profile piece in Fast Company reveals.

The idea for the course came ten years ago, when Professor Garth Saloner, currently dean of the Stanford GSB, created a two-week seminar on female entrepreneurship with the simple goal of exposing business students to a multitude of entrepreneurship examples. As of 2015, the class will be offered as a full, quarter course.

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Three male students interviewed in the article say they signed up for the course because they wanted to better understand the real-life challenges and decisions that entrepreneurs have to make.

“In a lot of the other classes, you hear the stories of winners … not to say that you didn’t hear it in this class, but the tone of it was more about the trade-offs that you have to make along the way,” says former student Andrew Yaffe. “We had both male and female speakers in the class addressing topics in term of how often they were able to see their children, when they started their company, what was the initial pay they took. I found the male and female perspectives valuable.”

The course name may dissuade male students who assume it’s a class for women, but Professor Mandelbaum hopes that will soon change because the topics are important for future business leaders of either gender in order to create inclusive work environments.

Men may not think business school is the place to learn some of the personal aspects covered in the class, but, says past participant Johnson Ci Yu Fung, “What better way to generate innovation than to see it from a perspective that the other half of the population experiences?”

This article has been re-published as per the terms of LEAP Partners Program with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Follow Stacy Blackman on LEAP.

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