By Amy Donovan

The night before Valentine’s Day, Binghamton University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships hosted its first Galentines Mixer, inviting female entrepreneurs from the Southern Tier to mix, mingle and network.

The purpose of the event, hosted at Galaxy Brewing Company in Downtown Binghamton, was to connect women involved in entrepreneurship so they could share advice and trade stories.

New York state has the fourth-highest number of women-owned businesses in the country, according to a 2012 analysis by the National Women’s Business Council, an independent advisory council that makes federal recommendations on issues facing women in business. Nationwide, though, women own just over a third (36.3%) of businesses.

Several women entrepreneurs with their own businesses attended the mixer, including Rachel Jenks, who owns Rtistry By Design, a graphic design company based out of the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator.

Jenks said that while she enjoys running her own business, working in a male-dominated field presents challenges. She said the mixer was different from typical networking events.

“I’m not going to lie to you ―  walk into a room at a networking meeting with mostly men and as soon as you go in, you have something to prove,” she said.

Aubrey Nawrocki, business development assistant for the office, said efforts to support women are increasingly important and can set the stage for future generations of women entrepreneurs.

“If we continue to encourage women in entrepreneurship, the next generation of girls may have some more easily recognizable faces to look up to instead of all the boys we’re so tired of hearing about,” Nawrocki said.