Ladies First

Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.

Ladies First

Here at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship we believe that the skills taught by the process of launching a new venture are useful for everyone. Whether a student is interested in launching a traditional business, a social venture, being an “intrapreneur” with an existing organization, or is just passionate about solving a particular problem, the Dingman Center’s courses and programs are designed to help.

But the truth is that the entrepreneurship world is not as diverse as it should be, because not everyone who could be an entrepreneur thinks it’s a viable option for them. Women are particularly underrepresented in the entrepreneurship ecosystem nationwide. In fact, while women-owned businesses now constitute 39% of companies in the U.S., a significant increase from a few decades ago, these businesses grow more slowly and generate significantly less revenue than businesses owned by men. The statistics are even worse in the tech world: in Silicon Valley, only 3% of technology companies are started by women, and women-led firms raised only 2% of venture capital dollars in 2017. Currently, our classes and programs reflect this gender imbalance.

We’re committed to changing that. The Dingman Center launched the Ladies First initiative in 2016 to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. We are tackling the barriers that prevent our female students from pursuing entrepreneurship, such as the absence of a peer community, less familiarity with startup terms and concepts, and lack of access to mentors and funding.

Join the Ladies First movement today. If you would like to serve as a speaker or mentor, please complete our Volunteer Interest Form. If you’d like to support the Ladies First initiative as a sponsor or donor, email Sara Herald (

Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D)

Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D) is the Dingman Center’s class for female entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland.  Taught by Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, this one-credit course is open to undergraduate women working on businesses.  The inaugural cohort and future cohorts will learn about entrepreneurship, grow their own business ideas, and support each other’s entrepreneurial journeys.

Offered for the first time in Spring 2018, the course is a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events.  Topics include the how to’s of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.  

The course is open to any female undergraduate at the University of Maryland who is working on a business or social venture.  Due to high demand for the course, participants are selected through an application process.  If you’re interested in participating in a future semester of Ladies First Founders, fill out this interest form.

Upcoming Events

Ladies First: Dolphin Tank with Springboard Enterprises
April 3 at 5 p.m. | 2333 VMH

The Dingman Center is excited to host an edition of Springboard Enterprises Dolphin Tank. The Dolphin Tank is a pitch session where regional entrepreneurs will receive constructive insights and valuable connections from knowledgeable professionals. Female students and alumni are invited. Registration link pending.

Bootstrapped Episodes

The Dingman Center regularly features female founders, investors, and ecosystem builders on our podcast, Bootstrapped.  We recommend the following episodes to the Ladies First community: