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USF professor Diana Hechavarria to speak on women in the entrepreneurial world in Thursday’s ULS

In Thursday’s University Lecture Series, associate professor of entrepreneurship Diana Hechavarria will speak on entrepreneurship through a “gender lens.” SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FEATURE FLORIDA PARTNERSHIPS

In honor of Women’s History Month, associate professor of entrepreneurship Diana Hechavarria will provide insight into what women face in the world of entrepreneurship as the speaker for the upcoming University Lecture Series (ULS). 

The lecture will be held Thursday from 7-8 p.m. via Microsoft Teams. Hechavarria will discuss the gender dynamics that remain pervasive within the startup business community. 

The event will be limited to 250 attendees and will be moderated by former Student Body President Britney Deas, who will ask questions for the first 45 minutes followed by a 15-minute Q&A period to finish the hour. Unlike previous ULS guests, Hechavarria will not be paid as she volunteered for the lecture.

Hechavarria, a first-generation Cuban American, was raised in Miami where her parents were adamant about the importance of education, which ultimately made her want to become a professor. 

“The idea of being in college and helping people at that point in their life, kind of identify what they wanted to do for a living, really resonated with me,” said Hechavarria. “So that’s how I got the whole idea of like ‘Oh, I want to be a professor.’”

Her journey in education started at UF where she received her undergraduate degree in sociology and minored in women’s studies in 2004. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she was unsure about the next step in her route, but knew she wanted to move forward in her studies. 

She was first introduced to the world of entrepreneurship at Florida International University while pursuing her master’s degree in liberal studies, a moment in her life that she described as “serendipitous.”

“I got a job working for a professor who was studying entrepreneurship, and I was like ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ because this is putting everything I was thinking about together,” said Hechavarria. 

“Helping people own their own businesses and be autonomous and be able to provide for their families, and at the same time I’m helping the economy and teaching people how to do this. I feel like the stars aligned right. I just stumbled onto it. I was like ‘Oh wow, this is it.’”

She has since written 17 peer-reviewed publications, ranging from small businesses to cultural norms in the world of startup businesses, as well as graduated in 2013 with her doctorate degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati. 

Most of her time as a professor is invested in the subject matter that her lecture will cover, looking at entrepreneurship through a “gender lens” and using feminist theory to look into the issues women face in the field. 

“When [you] say ‘gender lens,’ it’s like shedding light to some of the issues that we face as women when starting a business because it’s a male-dominated area,” said Hechavarria.

By the end of the lecture, Hechavarria hopes the audience, specifically women, will be able to walk away with a new mindset on pursuing a career as an entrepreneur.

“One of the things I’ve seen, particularly for women, is the gatekeepers tend to be men in these areas that provide financing or even in the businesses that you might be doing business with,” she said. 

“So remind [women] that you have a voice, you are powerful and this is just as much of a legitimate career for you as for men.”