The Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development – Texas (WIELD Texas) is a career incubator program launched by the Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin.
This program provides the infrastructure to guide women from diverse backgrounds into leadership and executive roles in corporate America. While all applicants are welcome, regardless of their gender or race, this program will address workforce issues that uniquely impact women and individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. WIELD Texas participants will benefit from a combination of professional skills development and personal support, along with an immersive and unmatched experience learning directly from leading executives and entrepreneurs. Meet the WIELD Advisory Board.
About WIELD Texas
As part of the Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship portfolio, WIELD Texas helps create an inclusive economy where every woman with the desire to become a leader in their community has the ability to access social networks, uplift their community, and create, manage, and invest wealth that can impact their neighborhoods. We want to create the next generation of women executives and position our alumni to serve in executive leadership roles or launch their own ventures within ten years of graduating from The University of Texas at Austin and this program.
Women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force. Yet they face challenges around equal pay and upward career mobility, and they have the lowest amount of capital invested in their ventures from the angel and venture capital community. Black and Latinx women comprise two of the fastest growing sectors in entrepreneurship in our country yet are often unable to acquire seed money or the first crucial round of investment into their ventures. Women may also have a more difficult time moving upwardly within the executive ranks of corporations. The Fortune 500 has only a handful of women, let alone women of color, serving in those top executive decision-making roles.
We can help create and supercharge the next generation of entrepreneurs by accelerating the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship and ensuring that when they launch their ventures, they are successful, equipped with the right resources and networks, and are able to create jobs in their community that in turn benefit everyone.
Launched in spring 2020, the WIELD Texas program was built as a three-year career-incubator program. Twenty-five women were chosen for the first cohort that represented the Latinx, Black, Asian and Native American communities.
Core Program Components
- Curriculum – This program offers training on soft skills such as negotiation, career exploration and navigation, managing up, building and managing teams, and interviewing.
- Paid Internship – WIELD Texas participants are placed in specific roles within corporations working within middle and upper management to gain insight into the duties and decision making involved at the executive level. This internship is coupled with a project deliverable for their portfolio at the end.
- Mentorship – We have assembled a great list of executive advisors and through their networks, we built a robust network of women who are looking to mentor, sponsor and coach WIELD Texas participants into executive-level roles.
- Funding – WIELD Texas participants are able to qualify for a seed grant to be awarded during their second year, upon successful completion of their first-year assignments. This funding is used to help launch their micro-venture or launch a community impact project.
- Programmatic Elements
- WIELD Texas meets once a week for two hours on the UT Austin campus
- Meetings feature guest speakers as well as program staff
- Trips and retreats are incorporated throughout the three-year program
- The program is of no cost to students beyond any trip or fundraising costs
- Participation in the program does not currently result in course credit
- Each WIELD Texas participant is paired with a dedicated mentor
Advisory Board – The WIELD Texas career incubator is supported by an advisory board comprised of the top executive women in the city and the country. The board meets three times a year to network with each other and the cohort. They provide feedback, guidance, connections, and mentorship to the cohort of women of color. View the current board of advisors.
Executive Director- Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Apply for WIELD Texas
WIELD Texas is a leadership-focused career incubator program for women of color undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin. Therefore, we seek applications from women and individuals within the LGBTQ+ community who identify with a historically underrepresented racial group (Latinx, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, mixed race or biracial).