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Pepperdine University and Women In Film Announce Entrepreneurial Pathways Partnership

Kirsten Schaffer - Women In FilmPepperdine University and Women In Film, Los Angeles (WIF LA), a nonprofit organization that advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries, have launched a research partnership to identify the drivers and inhibitors of funding for women-owned businesses in the screen industries.

Part of Entrepreneurial Pathways, a new WIF initiative that will work to equalize opportunities for women-owned businesses, the project will be led by WIF LA board president Amy Baer, board treasurer Stasia Washington (MBA ’13), and executive director Kirsten Schaffer (pictured right). Alicia Jessop, academic director for sport administration at the Pepperdine Institute for Entertainment, Media, Sports, and Culture (IEMSC), will conduct the research alongside Sharifa Batts (MBA ’18), a doctor of business administration student at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.

“Women In Film has partnered with Pepperdine University to conduct a study that will examine the paucity of funding for female-led companies and will then create an action plan to connect women to the tools and resources needed to raise capital,” explained Schaffer, who publicly announced the partnership on June 12, 2019, at the WIF Annual Gala, the organization’s signature event. “Every week I read a story in the trades about a man receiving tens of millions in seed money for his business, while equally qualified women struggle to raise $2 million. We are going to change this.”

IEMSC and thePepperdine Graziadio Center for Women in Leadership (CWL) will lead the project in collaboration with WIF, with support from an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students from Seaver College and the Graziadio Business School.

“The foundation of our center is rooted in a commitment to prepare women to succeed in their careers, helping them to feel competent, confident, and ready to lead,” noted Bernice Ledbetter (EdD ’05), director of the CWL. “We are delighted to partner with Women In Film as it seeks to break ground in another key element of their mission: the funding for women’s business ventures in the screen industries.”

According to Baer, “Built into Women In Film’s work is the importance of creating opportunities and networks for women both on screen and behind the scenes. Through professional development, education, and programming, WIF empowers its community to transform culture by working towards parity in employment and representation. Entrepreneurial Pathways is a crucial step to helping women access capital at the top of the system, a major roadblock to a gender-balanced industry.”

“The inequity in funding for women-led businesses has been around for decades,” said Nelson Granados, executive director of IEMSC. “For this systemic problem, thought leadership through collaboration between academia and industry makes a lot of sense. Pepperdine will support Women in Film with rigorous scientific research that will help to identify the factors related to barriers to and funding for women-led businesses in the screen industries. The findings will serve as a base for WIF to make tangible actions that improve funding for women entrepreneurs.”

Founded in 1973, Women In Film supports all women working in film, television, and digital media from emerging to advanced career. The organization’s distinguished programs include mentoring, speaker and screening series, production training program, writing labs, film finishing funds, legal aid, and an annual financing intensive. WIF advocates for gender parity through research, education, and media campaigns, and honors the achievements of women in Hollywood through the Legacy Series, annual Emmy and Oscar parties, and the Women In Film Annual Gala.