Western Washington University will offer a new certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership during the upcoming academic year.
Christy Johnson, the CEO of Artemis Connection, will instruct the program, which will explore the fundamentals of entrepreneurship needed to build and operate a successful business.
The course teaches students to develop business model canvases, as well as pitches. A canvas is a framework for understanding a business model, while a pitch is a verbal presentation directed towards potential investors.
Johnson said 71% of students launch something within a month of course completion.
“This is a very immersive, hands-on class,” Johnson said.
In addition to her love for teaching, Johnson said she was inspired to teach the course because many entrepreneurship programs were taught by men and didn’t offer examples that resonated with her.
Although this program is a good opportunity for women pursuing entrepreneurship, women in business weren’t always treated as fairly as today.
“Women were left out of entrepreneurship on a large-scale.” Susan Perreault, director of Washington Women’s Business Center at Business Impact NW said, “Think of it this way, 33 years ago women could not get business credit under their own name, they had to have a male relative or husband co-sign a business loan.”
In 1988, the Women’s Business Ownership Act was passed to help women in business, eliminating some discriminatory practices.
“Women business owners are closing the achievement gap with their male counterparts,” Perreault said.
Perreault said women-owned businesses have been growing in recent years, representing 42% of all small businesses, employing 9.4 million workers, and generating $1.8 trillion in revenue as of 2019.
Johnson said the program helps students gain confidence, a sense of agency and will offer tips for women facing common barriers in the workplace.
“In this class, we talk about how empowered women empower other women, and that’s what we need a lot more of,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there aren’t prerequisites for the program and you don’t need a background in business, finance or economics to take the course. Students with any amount of experience may enroll in the program.
Taught on Saturdays, class sessions at Western will be online during fall quarter, and in-person at the Everett University Center during winter quarter.
Johnson said networking and forming relationships with other action-oriented individuals is another focus of the course.
“You have so many people wanting you to be successful and really celebrating you,” Johnson said. “You get to connect with those folks and get their advice,”
After majoring in mathematics and economics at Western Washington University, Johnson received her master’s in business administration and master’s in education from Stanford University. Johnson worked for two other startups before founding Artemis Connection.
“This [certificate] is crucial,” said Tori Corkum, a student minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation, “This means that a woman who has something beautiful and precious to bring to the world will have the means to do it.”
According to Outreach and Continuing Education at Western, students will not receive college credit for the course, nor will financial aid be available. However, nationally recognized Continuing Education Units will be awarded to those completing the program.
An online information session for the certificate program will be held Thursday, July 29 from 12-1 p.m.
Jasper Summy is a senior majoring in Business Administration with concentrations in both operations management and finance, as well as a minor in public relations. He covers administrative decisions at WWU for The Front’s news team. He can be contacted at email@example.com.