Overcoming Bias: A Toolkit for Inclusive Entrepreneurship Education

Addressing the Lack of Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship Programs

Entrepreneurship has long been seen as a pathway to economic growth and job creation. However, many entrepreneurship programs fail to address the biases that perpetuate stereotypes and hinder the participation of underrepresented groups. This lack of diversity and inclusion not only limits opportunities for marginalized individuals but also hampers the overall effectiveness of these programs. In response to this pressing issue, a team of researchers has developed a toolkit called Gender-Smart Entrepreneurship Education and Training Plus (GEET+) 2.0, aimed at promoting inclusivity and equity in entrepreneurship education.

Unveiling the Barriers: A Framework to Analyze Biases
Collaborating with experts in fields such as anthropology, entrepreneurship, and sociology, the research team developed a comprehensive framework to analyze the barriers faced by marginalized individuals in entrepreneurship programs. The GEET+ 2.0 toolkit extends beyond gender considerations and incorporates intersectional identity factors, including race, ethnicity, religion, age, education, sexual orientation, culture, income, language, and disabilities. By profiling lessons learned from a systematic review of entrepreneurship education literature, the toolkit aims to shed light on the challenges faced by underrepresented groups.

Biases in Education: Recognizing the Need for Change
Studies conducted at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, and other institutions have revealed biases in entrepreneurship education programming. When asked to name an entrepreneur, students from various countries predominantly cite American male tech icons, demonstrating a lack of awareness of entrepreneurial leaders in their own countries, particularly women. The absence of policies and criteria associated with equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in entrepreneurship education further exacerbates this issue.

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A Global Perspective: Insights from a 19-Country Panel
To gain a deeper understanding of the inclusivity of entrepreneurship programs, the research team surveyed a panel of entrepreneurship educators from 19 countries. The survey aimed to assess the inclusiveness of programs, identify barriers related to culture, gender, and entrepreneurial identities, and explore indicators of inclusive programming. The responses highlighted the context-specific nature of underrepresentation, with educators from different countries identifying various marginalized groups. The survey revealed that EDI initiatives have not yet permeated entrepreneurship programs on a global scale.

The GEET+ 2.0 Toolkit: Assessing and Enhancing Inclusivity
The GEET+ 2.0 toolkit provides educators with a comprehensive framework to assess their programs across seven content areas: commitment to inclusive education and training, knowledge and expertise about EDI, access to resources, program design, program development, program delivery, and program evaluation. The toolkit has been tested in settings in the United States and Canada, allowing organizations to identify gaps in their programs and gain support from organizational leaders and funders. By fostering a common understanding of equity and inclusion issues, the toolkit facilitates team discussions and drives program changes.

Conclusion: Embracing Diversity for a Thriving Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
Inclusive entrepreneurship education is crucial for fostering economic development and ensuring equal opportunities for all aspiring entrepreneurs. The GEET+ 2.0 toolkit offers a practical approach to address biases and enhance inclusivity in entrepreneurship programs. By equipping educators with the resources to identify and overcome barriers, this toolkit paves the way for a more diverse and thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is time for organizations to recognize their role in amplifying stereotypes and take proactive steps towards building inclusive entrepreneurship programs that empower individuals from all walks of life.

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