Closing the Tech Startup Gender Gap

Posted by: John Tozzi on October 19, 2011

Women 2.0, a company devoted to helping women entrepreneurs launch tech startups, says half of the women responding to an audience survey are actual company founders, compared to one quarter in its survey three years ago. Sarah Perez at TechCrunch has the details:

Granted, only polling the audience of a women-focused technology community isn’t going to give you the same hard data as you would find if you took a broad sampling of the startup community as a whole and looked for changes over time. However, it likely does indicate that many of those 2008 respondents who claimed to be “thinking about entrepreneurship” actually followed through and launched their own companies. And that, in and of itself, should serve as solid inspiration for women entrepreneurs.

There’s a constant dialogue in the startup community about the reasons behind the gender gap among company founders and what should be done about it. Women 2.0 is one response. Co-founder Shaherose Charania started it 2006 to help connect women entrepreneurs and women who wanted to start companies with investors and other startup founders. “We were going to networking events here in Silicon Valley and we were often one of the three women in the room,” she told me earlier this year. The for-profit company, through its website, networking events, and a training program it calls a “pre-incubator,” appears to be making a difference at least within its own community.

Meanwhile, our columnist Scott Shane explores the gender gap in business ownership. The reason for the disparity, he says, is that women at an early age are less interested in entrepreneurship. The difference is evident in high school. His fix:

The solution is to get girls who have yet to start high school interested in entrepreneurship. That requires a much longer-term approach to solving the problem than most policymakers have been willing to embrace thus far. It demands reallocating scarce resources toward teaching girls about business ownership as a career option, as well as exposing them to female role models who run companies.

That’s one challenge Women 2.0 is taking on.

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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