School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (MFA)


Brianna Paige O'Neal


women entrepreneurs, women in business, women business owners, community building, female funding


Art and Design | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations


”EmpowHER: Creating Digital Pathways to Funding and Cultivating Community for Women Entrepreneurs” embarks on a comprehensive exploration of the dynamic world of women entrepreneurship, deciphering the intricate dynamics that influence their journey to success. With a focus on fostering gender diversity and promoting innovation, this thesis delves into the profound impact of accessible funding mechanisms and community engagement on women entrepreneurs’ trajectories while in the growth stage of their business. As women-owned enterprises continue to rise, this project dissects their economic potential and explores how innovative practices can dismantle the barriers that hinder their progress. By employing various research methods such as content analysis, visual analysis, and case studies, the project unearths valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that define the landscape of women entrepreneurship. The examination of website aesthetics, content, and functionality, coupled with case studies, illuminates the ways in which initiatives are launched and sustained to empower women entrepreneurs. This thesis examines the realms of semiotics and iconography, unveiling how visual symbols and branding resonate with broader cultural narratives. The analysis of funding platforms, both conventional and innovative, unearths avenues for enhancing women’s access to capital, fostering resilience in the face of gender biases. The research places a significant emphasis on women entrepreneurship, which includes the entrepreneurial endeavors of women in various aspects of business. It involves women taking the initiative to start, manage, and grow businesses while addressing the unique challenges and opportunities they face as females. The study also explores the idea of feminism, a socio-political and cultural movement that advocates for gender equality, with a specific focus on women’s rights and opportunities. In the context of this research, feminism underscores the empowerment and advocacy required to eliminate gender-based disparities and biases, particularly in the entrepreneurial sphere. Gender diversity, on the other hand, is a central theme, emphasizing the importance of creating an environment where women, along with individuals of diverse gender identities, are actively encouraged and supported in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Such efforts contribute to a more inclusive and diverse business landscape. The project delves into various aspects of women entrepreneurship, especially for those in the 35-55-year age range who are navigating the growth stage of their businesses. It examines how mentorship, role models, and community engagement form a holistic support system for women entrepreneurs. The study investigates the impact of both online and offline networks in shaping a supportive ecosystem that nurtures aspirations and helps entrepreneurs navigate the challenges they face. Furthermore, it delves into the intricate connection between gender, motherhood, and entrepreneurship, highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities encountered by women who juggle multiple roles. Ultimately, this project envisions a future where women’s access to funding and opportunities is equitable, and community support is available both digitally and in person.