As women continue to charge into the world of start-ups, we’re seeing that their potential growth may have already been undervalued and as a female-founded start-up ourselves, we’re wondering why. The sad reality is that women-led start-ups have only grown by a mere 3% over the past 20 years and this definitely isn't for a lack of brilliant female founders.
So, why are women-led start-ups not more prevalent?
Looking at the stats, the underrepresentation is clear as women-run companies are at a staggering 33% compared to men. This was a shocking realisation and kick-started our curiosity about where this inequality stems from. What we stumbled upon is something called the unconscious gender bias, a prejudice against one gender.
Gender bias in start-ups is unfortunately quite common and under this umbrella falls ‘promotion’ and ‘prevention’. Dr Dana Kanze found that while her male colleagues were asked questions about what can go right with their venture, she was asked what would go wrong. Investors were unconsciously, yet actively searching for potential losses.
Thus, to survive in the world of start-ups it’s almost essential that women have access to sources of support such as accelerators and incubators. However, female founders are not well represented here either, leading to even further disadvantage.
Industry experts are recognising this as well. For example, one of Australia’s best-known accelerators Startmate revealed that their 2017 intake had 15 start-ups but only one with even a female co-founder. This eyesore of a statistic is accompanied by another, which is that when it comes to early stage funding of companies in Australia, only around 29.4% have at least one female founder, compared to 70.6% of male-only founders.
It's clear that despite how far women have come in the world, we still have a long way to go. Although we face an abundance of obstacles, we always remind ourselves of the words of another iconic woman, Ayn Rand - “the question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?”.
This is the first instalment of a three-part series on women in startups, to contribute to the conversation this women's history month. Make sure you've subscribed to our mailing list and are following our socials to make sure you don't miss the next two.