Based on one of our Bookshelf entries a while back alongside interesting conversations as well as some additional reading, we found ourselves discussing why funding seem to be difficult for female entrepreneurs to come by. There isn’t a shortage of accomplished female entrepreneurs and yet they are over 60% less likely to receive funding for their ventures. This gender bias within the entrepreneurial process should be taken seriously and potential measures discussed as to how it might be addressed.
Research from London’s Business School argues that the problem is most prominent when orientation choices are made at the moment of funding as well as at the funding seeking stage. Approaching the process from a pipeline perspective, the research implies that by looking at entrepreneurship from this angle it allows for any gender gaps to emerge more distinctly. In essence, where in the process could potential disadvantages to women be detected?
Embracing the pipeline approach to entrepreneurship as well as applying our own experience when it comes to engaging with female entrepreneurs, it is most definitely possible to detect the previously mentioned gender gaps during different stages. For instance, when working with start-ups a substantial part of the interaction involves listening to pitches and assist in making the delivery spot-on and relevant for the target audience. Here it at times becomes obvious that although said start-ups may have female CEOs or female team members, they are less likely to make the presentations.
As the article above questions as well, does this then perhaps mean that the female team members are less ambitious? No, not at all. However, the choice not to take centre stage remains and we have been unsuccessful in determining why. It is no secret that the cleantech field alongside its investor community are mostly represented by men. Although things seem to be changing and more conscious efforts into engaging with gender equal teams are being made both on the investor side as well as within the field in general, discrepancies in terms of gender equality remains.
The reading above left us with some interesting conclusions to ponder upon. First, women are less likely to start new ventures in general and even if they do they represent a significantly lower number than their male counterparts. Second, only a small portion of this group achieved high equity growth. What of potential solutions then? Well, the change needs to be structural as well as behavioural. I.e. the issue needs to be highlighted, a conversation started and most importantly a new behavioural pattern created. Here we should all shoulder the responsibility and opt for these changes as quickly as possible.