Why Women Founders Matter

by Shaherose Charania, Clarity Blog
(Source: Business Insider, March 10, 2013)

Women have been dominating the headlines for the last weeks. From debates  about women ‘leaning in’ in the workplace, to new research that shows that women are leaving their  mark on the tech scene – women’s issues are having their time in the light.

So why all the fuss about the ladies? Because we are the next billion.

The next billion of consumers, the next billion of markets (the emerging  markets), and the next billion of products. In short, women are poised to  transform economies worldwide for generations to come.

Today, I want to talk to you about the innovators. The women changing the  face of the tech startup industry right before our eyes. And I have one question  to ask you…Are you ready for us?

Women by the Numbers

Fact: women are turning to entrepreneurship in greater numbers than we have  ever seen before.

The growth of female-run businesses has increased by 54%  in the last 15 years – second only to the growth of large,  publicly-owned companies. Women-owned business represent 28% of American  enterprises, and employ 7.7 million people in the US.

Make no mistake – women are changing the face of our economy. And with the  next billion joining their ranks over the next 7 to 8 years, there will be no  stopping the rising tide of female entrepreneurship.

But don’t break open the bubbly just yet. While women are rocking the  business world at large, only 3%  of technology startups in Silicon Valley are started by women. How can  that be? If women are choosing entrepreneurship by the millions, why aren’t  these numbers reflected in the startup community? Where are all the women?

But – more importantly – why do these numbers  matter?

It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby

The most compelling argument in favour of increasing the number of female  founders of tech startups is not just about doing what’s ‘right’ – it’s an  economic argument, and quite a powerful one, at that.

Study after study have shown that gender diversity enhances stability and has  a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. In fact, research shows that women-run private tech companies  are not only more capital-efficient, but bring in a 35% higher return on  investment.

While the rest of the world was getting crushed by the 2008 recession, women  (once again) proved their resilience. A report released by the Credit Suisse  Research Institute found that despite a challenging economic climate, companies  with women on boards outperformed companies who had all-male boards.

In addition to bringing in 12%  more revenue than male-owned tech companies when having received  venture funding, startups with women at the helm have proven to have a higher  likelihood of success overall. Of startups with five or more women in leadership  roles, 61% succeeded, and successful companies had a 7.1% share of female  executives, while unsuccessful companies only had 3.1%.

So, in summary: women = profit + stability + growth. Sounds like a pretty  good deal to me.

But it’s not a matter of one gender being better than the other…it’s about  balance. “I am fed up with this tyranny of either or – either men, or women” explains Halla Tomasdottir in her inspirational TED  Talk, “we need to start embracing the beauty of balance”.

Halla founded a financial services firm in her native Iceland based  on traditionally ‘feminine’ values after seeing her country’s economy destroyed  by reckless economic practices. Her approach  to gender diversity in business is exactly what we try to encourage  with Women 2.0. It’s not a matter of one gender or the other, it’s about giving  our businesses a creative leg up by embracing diversity at the leadership  level.

So, how do we create this balance?

Getting Ready for the Next Billion

Civilization is the encouragement of differences – Gandhi

In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, the true test of a society is it’s  ability to encourage and celebrate differences. While we’ve come a long way  since the days of Mad Men, the tech startup industry needs to break the mould  and begin encouraging differences by putting our money where our mouth is.

1. Investing

While women are starting businesses at 1.5 times the national rate, they receive between 4-9% of venture capital funding, and the average percentage  of women in top VC firms is as low as 8%. Groups like the Pipeline  Fellowship are working to change the ratio by training women to become  angel investors, and creating pools of funding available to women-lead social  ventures – by other women. While increasing the representation of women in the  angel investing and/or venture capital industry does not guarantee that more  women-run startups will receive funding, it contributes to the creation of a  vibrant, diverse ecosystem that is welcoming to women.

2. Mentorship

One of the most important parts of the Women 2.0 mission is the creation of  supportive communities around female entrepreneurship. From our Women 2.0 blog  network to our Founder Fridays events, we encourage connections between  experienced female entrepreneurs and fledgling founders. These supportive communities equip young female entrepreneurs  with the inspiration, information, and the networks that they need to  successfully launch their own ventures.

3. Education

Studies show that girls lose interest in STEM (science,  tech, engineering, math) around middle school. Programs like Girls Learning  Code, Black Girls Code,  and Girls Who Code are  essential resources that provide young women with access to vital technology  education and access to role models in the tech industry. In order to make a  lasting change to the representation of women in the tech industry, we need to  be reaching out the next generation of innovators today.

We are at a tipping point as an industry. The next billion is coming, and  will change the face of business and entrepreneurship forever. Now is the time  for companies and business leaders to make a conscious choice: what side of  history do they want to be on?

I am ready for the next billion. Are you?

Read more:  http://blog.clarity.fm/why-women-founders-matter/#more-2374#ixzz2NkXTn25t


D.C. is the Best City for Working Women Looking for a Better Salary

(Source: In the Capital, February 11, 2013)

While it may seem like a man’s world here in the District where the politicos are put on pedestals and the tech realm mostly consists of those with high levels of testosterone, it turns out that our nation’s capital may very well be the ideal city for working women.

Forbes finally released its much anticipated list of the 20 best-paying cities for women last week. With data from the 2011 Census, Forbes configured the median annual earnings of full-time male and female employees across more than 500 metropolitan regions in the U.S., concluding that while women have been making more money than in the past, they are still falling behind in comparison to the male population. Or, to put it more succinctly, gender parity remains a rarity, no matter the location.

To this day, women residing in the U.S. continue to make 77 cents on each dollar men earn. The wage gap, as described by the American Association of University Women, results from “a combination of women choosing lower-paying fields, lingering gender discrimination and differences in salary negotiations,” but regardless of the reasoning, it remains true that women are still treated differently than males within the workforce arena.