Why do we need more female founders?
As the business world evolves, gender diversity in entrepreneurship is becoming more and more essential. More female founders bring innovation and improve results — this is becoming universally recognized, and feminism is a driving force behind this.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of gender diversity in entrepreneurship, challenges female founders face, and strategies promoting inclusion and opportunities for women in startups.
Feminism is driven by energy.
Feminism is a powerful force that brings many benefits, including empowering women to pursue their ambitions and become entrepreneurs. By breaking down stereotypes and barriers, it promotes women in startups — a key role in transforming the business landscape.
It’s important to note that feminism isn’t about forcing all women to become entrepreneurs. Feminism isn’t about forcing women to do anything. Instead, it aims to give women the freedom and agency to choose their path in life, regardless of societal expectations.
It might not always seem like feminism directly impacts every woman in business, but it’s vital to creating an inclusive and productive environment that empowers women to pursue the careers they want. Seeing more and more women taking on leadership roles is encouraging, and it shows feminism’s positive social impact.
At its core, feminism is about restoring balance to a world that patriarchal structures have long dominated. Historically, men have enjoyed more privileges in basic human rights and responsibilities, which created a gap between the rights men and women have.
Feminism seeks to promote equal rights, remove gender stereotypes, and create a more equitable society. It’s important to emphasize that feminism in general isn’t about just shifting the power balance in favor of women. The point is to achieve the right balance — a world where everyone can pursue their dreams without being held back by dated gender roles and expectations.
Challenging stereotypes and biases is imperative in creating a better future. Celebrating diversity and individuality matters: everyone deserves the right to express themselves without being restricted by gender. Man, woman, anyone — if they’re unhappy with their job, they should be able to explore any new opportunities that bring them joy. Nobody should be held back by gender stereotypes.
Female founders play a vital role in restoring balance to the business world, and they bring key elements to the table: peace negotiations, creative solutions, and win-win situations. Again, this doesn’t mean men can’t be successful founders, too. Just because women can be great at something doesn’t make men worse — just like men being great at things shouldn’t have ever put women in a permanent second place.
By breaking down stereotypes and barriers, feminism creates a more fair and equal playing field for everyone. In an equal society success depends on merit, not gender roles.
How feminism is changing business
Feminism affects the rise of female entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to changing the world through business. However, a lot depends on the region — feminism and female entrepreneurship can be at very different stages around the world.
In Eastern Europe, for example, there are many women in top management and numerous successful businesswomen, even though many local societies can be more conservative. However, it’s important to remember that this situation won’t be universal — other conservative societies won’t necessarily have many women in business..
Meanwhile, in Western Europe, many initiatives actively promote women’s leadership and help women start and grow their businesses. While there may be fewer female-owned businesses, many women are in top positions in leading companies. This already led to a greater focus on how businesses are run and the unique challenges women face at the top.
In recent years, we’ve seen a positive trend in female entrepreneurship growth in startups. The share of startups with at least one female founder has been steadily increasing since 2012. This means that more women are entering the industry as entrepreneurs, not just employees. This trend benefits the economy in general, not just women.
What’s stopping female founders from growing?
Despite some progress, the gender gap in entrepreneurship remains a significant problem. In 2021, only 14% of solo startup founders were women. And their access to venture capital funding is also much lower, with only 2% of deployed capital going to female-founded startups in 2022. However, if we look at male-female founder teams, we see an interesting trend. They got a higher share of VC funding than all-male teams, which shows the importance of promoting gender diversity in entrepreneurship.
Unfortunately, female founders still need help securing investments and getting the same equity opportunities as their male counterparts. For instance, in the U.K., the top-4 most valuable female co-founded startups received only 5.6% in equity stakes. Meanwhile, male-founded companies got 23.8%. Moreover, even when women break the glass ceiling and become CEOs, they tend to get pushed out faster and more often than men.
Lack of advisors
Recent statistics show that almost half of women in business, around 48%, need more competent advisors to guide them through the challenging landscape of entrepreneurship. Regardless of experience, setting up a startup can be daunting, and seeking mentorship can be the key to fresh ideas and practical business strategies. Fortunately, women-focused networking events like eWomenNetwork, WIN Conference, Ellevate Network, and Bizwomen provide a great platform to connect with expert mentors and advisors.
Why do investors say no?
In the world of business, communication is key. However, when it comes to investors, understanding their decision-making process can be a challenge. Investors tend to keep their thoughts to themselves, especially in Western cultures where direct negative feedback just isn’t considered polite. Instead, they’ll just say a neutral ‘we like it, the pitch is terrific, everything is great, you report your news, we’ll read your mail.’ And then you can’t figure out why they said no.
However, as a woman in business, it’s important to remember that extreme situations aren’t the norm. While some may still hold prejudices, usually cite the product as the reason for rejection, not the founder.
Moreover, you can get support and other help, even from people not interested in investing. And they may keep the reasons behind their decision private, too, but some companies may have a scoring system with analysts providing feedback.
Navigating the world of business can be challenging, especially when it comes to investors — at the end of the day, they make the decisions, and you can’t get in their heads. Just stay on top of your communications game, learn to read between the lines, and don’t assume that everything negative is based on prejudice.
How to help women become founders
Creating a more inclusive and equal business landscape means empowering women to become successful despite the challenges they may face. Gender biases and limited access to funding and resources can make it difficult for women to enter entrepreneurship. But there are strategies and initiatives to support them.
Special programs designed for female founders, like the Women in Tech initiative, are gaining momentum globally. And initiatives like the Women in Sex Tech Awards focus on educating women, too, and breaking gender stereotypes.
The European Union’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is one more example of a government-led initiative promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, offering support tools and networks like access to funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities. The Cosme program is another EU initiative that provides financial support and helps connect entrepreneurs with investors and mentors.
Private-sector organizations also play an essential role in supporting women entrepreneurs. The Global Banking Alliance for Women provides financial and other support to women-led businesses, like access to financing, training, and networking. The US Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers certification for women-owned businesses and connects them with corporate buyers. Networking is also critical, and organizations like the Women’s Business Network and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) offer events, workshops, and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Networking events allow women in business to become each others’ support system, self-sufficient and independent.
Being in business is tough. Being a woman in business can be much tougher. But with the right help and the right product, you can do anything.