Tech needs more female entrepreneurs

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on September 23rd, 2021

Tech needs more female entrepreneurs

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on September 23, 2021

Female representation in tech startups is going from strength to strength: not only are more startups being founded by women, more of those startups are achieving unprecedented success.

In 2013, there were just four female-founded unicorns in the UK; in the first half of 2019 alone, there were ten.

Yet the scales remain far from balanced: with men still making up more than 80% of Britain’s tech workforce and holding 95% of senior roles, it’s not surprising the sector is also short of female entrepreneurs. How can we redress the balance?

1. Investment

Every female entrepreneur, in any sector, runs into this one. Male entrepreneurs are getting a disproportionate share of venture capital, with less than 1% going to women.

Why? Most of the investors are men. According to the British Venture Capital Association, only 13% of decision-makers in venture capital teams are women, and 48% of teams are all-male, meaning conscious or unconscious bias is bound to play a role.

A study in Harvard Business Review also found female entrepreneurs get asked tougher questions during pitches: men get asked “promotion-based” questions, focusing on achievements and ambitions, while women get asked “prevention-based” questions, focusing on losses and risks. In other words, men get to promote themselves; women have to defend themselves.

So are investors’ anxieties about female entrepreneurs well-founded? They are not. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group and MassChallenge revealed that on average, female-led startups deliver a 78% ROI, more than double that of male-led startups at 31%.

Any investor, regardless of gender, would want to know that information. So for female-led tech startups to enjoy the success they deserve, we need to get it out there. Some female-to-female investment initiatives are gaining ground in the US, and hopefully this will spread to the UK,

2. Startup support programmes

What’s putting women off? Studies show that women tend to suffer from self-doubt and imposter syndrome more than men. A Hewlett Packard study found that men applied for jobs if they met 60% of the criteria; women only applied if they met 100%.

In tech, this is exacerbated by the fact that girls’ interest in STEM subjects is still often discouraged, meaning women actually do statistically lag behind men in engineering skills and may lack the technical knowhow to bring their ideas to fruition on their own.

Startup support programmes can play a vital role in solving this problem by building a personalised team of product and business experts around each entrepreneur. And the growing crop of initiatives to encourage girls into STEM will hopefully ensure that it won’t be a problem for the next generation.

3. Role models

The importance of role models can’t be overstated, yet the achievements of the many inspiring women in tech often go unheard.

How many of us have heard of Margaret Hamilton? She led NASA’s software engineering division in the 1960s and was the founder of several successful startups. Her name should be a byword for female tech entrepreneurship, yet it’s almost unknown.

Women can be phenomenally successful as tech entrepreneurs. Celebrating their achievements will inspire more and more women to follow their example.

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