Women in tech are the futureJosephine Kemp 7th December 2018
Female founders got just 2.2% of Venture Capitalist Funding in 2018, the same percentage as in 2017.
This woeful figure is actually an increase on the 1.9% offered to female founders in 2016, and comes despite female founders raised a record amount of VC funding, at $2.3bn in ten months. This is an issue on both sides of the table: 74% of US Venture Capitalist firms have no female investors. These figures are a stark reminder that whilst the tech industry looks to the future, its decisions are being made in the historical, male-dominated model.
Female-headed businesses have a real potential to make societal change in ways perhaps different from those headed by men. Whitney Wolfe founded Bumble after leaving Tinder and filing a lawsuit against Tinder for sexual harassment. Bumble, where women have to make the first move and start the conversation, has led a revolution in how modern women go about dating, making new friends and networking professionally. Imagine what innovations could be discovered and supported if more than 2% of VC funding was granted to women.
Female-led companies lead changes to the way the world works, both for consumers and in the workplace itself. They are pioneers regarding flexible hours, split parental leave, and are overall more likely to be aware of the discrimination women face in their everyday lives. Implementing these changes to the workplace will drive change throughout society. When you compare the track record of many of the big tech companies – from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, to Amazon’s staff treatment and Google employees walking out over workplace culture – it is clear that change is needed.
But it is not enough to stay that 50% of funding should be awarded to female entrepreneurs. To enact real change, this thinking has to be implemented from childhood. Studies have found that girls outperform boys in Maths under Year 2 of primary school, when their performance starts to drop. Improving performance would boost the UK economy by an estimated £2.6tn. This is why more needs to be done to encourage girls to realise their potential from a young age. While progress has been made in this, more needs to be done to support our girls in their education. This extends to teaching about female historical figures: how are girls meant to aspire to be famous scientists if the only historical figures they learn about are men? Barbara McClintock and Grace Hopper need to be taught alongside Einstein, Crick and Watson. There is real societal impact in girls being able to have a range of female role models, as illustrated by the viral tweet from a father about his daughters playing scientists after watching Hidden Figures.
Increasing the number of female headed tech companies in the Western world is progress, but it’s not a win. Programmes such as the Women in Science Girl’s STEAM Camps across Africa, and Latin America are instrumental in helping women and girls achieve their potential everywhere. Think of all the ideas and progress we would have if their voices and ideas were heard and developed.
Giving girls the opportunity to develop into women leading the tech revolution is key to creating the society of the future, it has real and positive socio-economic and political impacts. This thinking can be applied to all areas and industries: having women in leadership positions in tech and beyond could bring new ideas into fruition and help us become a more equal and understanding society.
Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the media, information, technology, communications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog.