“I grew up in a family that really nurtured female leaders. I went to an all-girls school, I was a girl scout, I had a really supportive dad. I grew up with the idea that girls can do anything. And then when I came to Wharton, to study finance, I was really surprised at the lack of women who would raise their hand in class. They were too shy. And when executives came [to speak in our classes] there really were not women [speakers]. And I realized that we needed to close that leadership gap. So I started doing research. I looked around at the environment and asked, ‘Why are less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs women? Why has there never been a woman president? Why is Congress less than 20% women?’ It starts with girls. And when they believe, at a young age, that they can close the leadership gap, they will be more likely to pursue positions of power later in life. So I knew we needed to do something with younger girls, high school girls, that would be an experiential learning platform to exercise those skills.”
What is GenHERation?
What can you find at GenHERation.com?
“For example, this month we are working with Hilarity for Charity, and the girls submit ideas about raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.” Hilarity for Charity, founded by Seth Rogan, is a comedic variety show that raises money for Alzheimer’s research and raises awareness about the disease. “We’ve also worked with companies like ESPNW, the American Heart Association, First Niagra Bank. Every month we work with someone new.”
What is the offline arm of GenHERation?
In the social innovation challenge, the girls come up with ideas and, “…pitch to a panel of judges Shark Tank-style. The winners got between $500-1000 to implement their project.” There are also start-up challenges that are region-specific, and GenHERation collaborates with different companies depending on location. “We hosted events this summer at the Yahoo headquarters, Adobe, Macy’s in New York, and the Space Center in Houston.” (At this point I asked Katlyn—“Umm can I come next time? That sounds amazing!”)
“I never thought that events would be part of our model, but it’s now a huge part of our model. We just got back from a ten-city tour! [The Summer Leadership Series.] It’s bringing what we do to the girls.”
A ten city tour? Wow!
“I learned a lot. Every summer when you go out there and meet with the girls, you figure out, ‘What do girls want?’ I just got back a week ago and I have so many different directions I would like to go in.”
What do you hope the girls take away from these experiences?
What is next for GenHERation?
They are also announcing this year’s sponsorships and partnerships in the upcoming weeks. “We want to work with companies and brands that align with our values. When we were starting out, it was like, ‘Who is going to respond to my emails?’ Now I’m fortunate that as we have expanded, we are getting approached by companies—which is really great.”