Balanced Female Representation Starts at the University Level with Anne Bastien

Anne Bastien is the Program Director at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. Anne creates and implements statewide programming to teach students 21st century learning skills through entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation experiences. These programs serve thousands of students and activate over 500 startup teams annually. Anne has over 15 years of program, employee and student development experience with organizations including Utah Museum of Fine Arts and Utah FIRST LEGO League. She earned both her BS in Economics and her MBA from the University of Utah.

When did you start working for the Lassonde Institute?

I started with Lassonde in the Fall of 2010.

What is the Lassonde Institute's primary goal?

Our mission is to provide students a transformative experience through entrepreneurship. Our primary goal is student development and education. There are so many additional meaningful outcomes associated with this work, including, individual empowerment, leadership experience and ultimately positive economic impact for individuals and the State of Utah. It is a really fun mission to work on.

Is there a discrepancy between male and female students in the Lassonde program?

There have always been both male and female students involved at every level of our program. Over the years, we have worked toward representation that is more gender balanced and will continue to do so.

How do you promote and encourage balanced gender representation?

We start by measuring where we can and recruiting for diversity of all kinds, including balanced gender representation. We run our programs with over 160 student leaders on scholarship. The gender representation for student leaders FY2019 was 57% male and 43% female. We house 400 students annually in our Lassonde Studios residential building. Again, we recruit for diversity of many kinds for our residents. For FY2019 Lassonde Studios residents were 53% Male and 47% Female. Our gender representation measures indicate that we are tracking more balanced than the industry standard across the nation. You can see our numbers and much more in our Annual Report.

How can we change the trajectory of female entrepreneurs, investors, etc. starting from the university level?

I believe we need to start by measuring key indicators and build balanced cohorts of students, educators and community volunteers, so they can all perform at their best. I also believe strongly in modeling balanced female and male participation at every level of the organization. This provides students an opportunity to see examples of gender equality and representation in all layers of an organization, from the administrators and event coordinators to the founders and funders.

Since it really comes down to the percentage of female representation and participation, what can universities do to change that?

First, continue to recruit and support women into the higher education pipeline and work to retain women through college completion. Second, encourage and support women to participate in extracurricular opportunities that offer them leadership development and coaching to prepare for the workforce. Support can come through scholarships, mentoring and programming of all kinds. This is just the starting point for women to then consider an entrepreneurial endeavor.

Where are you originally from and how long have you been calling Salt Lake City home?

I am originally from Fairfax, California, a little hippie town 20 miles north of San Francisco. I have been here since 1998, having taken a few brief spells away. What makes this city so special? There are lots of things that make this city special to me. Usually, the amount of opportunity here is first out of my mouth. There is a ton of opportunity of all kinds here, from work, to play and art; you can carve out a fulfilling life in this place. I love the mountains and the expansive views in Utah. I’ve also always enjoyed the dynamic relationship between Utah history, with the art and recreation scene.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t believe in perfect happiness, so I don’t think about that often. I do think a lot lately that I will look back on these years I am in right now fondly and probably long for it again, so I’m trying to stay present and enjoy each day. My amazing husband and two kids are at the center of my world, their faces and voices bring me happiness (most of the time). I’m also lucky to have such inspirational work, my colleagues and students are remarkable. Other things that fill me up are time in the mountains, dirt roads, cooking and eating with friends and family, a hot cup of coffee… I could go on, but I’m a pretty simple creature.

What is your greatest fear?

Just like any parent, I worry about my kids. I worry about us unable to achieve our best life, for whatever reason. I don’t even want to name my fears!

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I will let fear and anxiety drive my decision making from time to time in a way that I know limits my fullest life. I am also very driven by external motivations and what others expect of me, this can convolute how I set and achieve goals. My very worst quality is letting myself get cranky and careless with the words I use with others and the thoughts I keep in my head.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Violence, bigotry and dishonesty.

Which living person do you most admire?

For many reasons I would say my mother, Kathryn Linscott. She has been the most consistent, kind and unassuming teacher, supporter and guide of my life. She is a remarkable listener and knows when to nudge ever so slightly. Outside of my family, I admire the worlds youth activists and change makers. I so admire those with stories as famous as Malala Yousafzai to those that I get to see every day doing good and making a positive difference in their own immediate family and small community. Some of them overcoming unthinkable adversity. There are too many inspirational youth worth my admiration to list here. This makes me a true believer in the strength of the human spirit and optimistic for our future.

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