She Started It: UVA Darden’s Batten Institute Co-Sponsors Screening of Documentary on Women-Led Tech Startups
By Mary Summers
Audience members at the Virginia Film Festival’s Emerging Artist series screening of She Started It were treated to a thought-provoking examination of the roots of gender bias and challenges facing women entrepreneurs through the stories of five fiercely determined young women on 4 November.
The feature-length documentary screening at Charlottesville, Virginia’s Violet Crown theater, as well as a post-screening panel discussion and reception, was sponsored by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, UVA’s Brown College, philanthropists Ted Dintersmith and Elizabeth Hazard, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tom Tom Founders Festival, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council.
“We are incredibly proud to have helped bring She Started It to the Charlottesville community,” said Joyce Smaragdis, Batten Institute director of strategic initiatives and outreach, who helped organize the event. “The Batten Institute seeks to inspire thoughtful, positive transformation through entrepreneurship and innovation. She Started It, as well as the insightful panel discussion that followed the film’s screening, served that goal.”
Co-directed and co-produced by Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed, She Started It tells the stories of five pioneering women entrepreneurs — Sheena Allen, founder, Sheena Allen Apps; Stacey Ferreira, founder, MySocialCloud; Brienne Ghafourifar, founder, Entefy; Agathe Molinar, founder, LemonCurve.com; and Thuy Truong, founder, GreenGar. It chronicles their successes, failures, struggles and determination not only to succeed in the world of high-tech startups, but also to pave the way for the next generation of women entrepreneurs.
The documentary points out that men found approximately 97 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. and control some 95 percent of venture capital funding. But the film’s message was one of fierce hope borne of dogged determination: While the documentary presents the case that the origins of the tech sector’s gender lopsidedness lie in socially constructed behavioral norms and expectations, it teaches how real change can take root, grow, thrive and spread through the stories of the five female founders.
Not Just Talk
The movie was followed by a spirited panel discussion of gender-related issues, moderated by Kisha Lashley, professor of management at UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, with commentary provided by co-directors Poggi and Saeed as well as panelists Elizabeth Harrington, third-year UVA student and UVA Brown College resident; Jen Linton (MBA ’03), founder and CEO, Fenris; and Sarah Rumbaugh (MBA ’15), founder and CEO, Relish.
The panelists discussed the critical importance of providing young women with educational support, encouragement and outstanding role models, and also praised the film’s mission.
“I loved the movie’s message,” Linton told the audience. “It’s so important for us to show girls positive women role models — because you can’t be what you can’t see.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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