Women’s Place in Business

Techcrunch recently posted an article ‘Silicon Valley: You and Some of your VC’s Have a Gender Problem’ by Vivek Wadhwa which has certainly stirred up the entrepreneurial community.  I responded in the comments:

I recently pitched for a Seattle dating site at TheFunded.com Showcase and noted that I was the only woman and older person amongst a gaggle of young male geeks. I am not a programmer but a passionate entrepreneur and being a woman & older does not diminish that. At the after party Adeo Ressi, the Founder of TheFunded.com, called me ‘a woman with balls’ because I didn’t falter with my pitch when I had problems with the mic & the powerpoint went crazy.
I find it best to ignore the fact that its a ‘young boys club’ out there because I believe that this is the only way I can stay hopeful and positive about our business. However it would be wonderful to see women venture capitalists or at the very least male venture capitalists who are enthusiastic about women entrepreneurs. I think women are often better organizers & managers & better with staff & teams & if they have a visionary ability too then they are real stars!!!

Pemo Theodore – February 10th, 2010 at 11:53 am UTC

Some paragraphs that caught my attention from that post are as follows:

An analysis performed by Cindy Padnos, Managing Director of Illuminate Ventures, showed that women are more capital-efficient than the norm and that venture-backed companies run by a woman had annual revenues that were 12 percent higher and used an average of one-third less committed capital. Women-led high-tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by men. And organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher return on equity and 34% better total return to shareholders than do their peers.
Shaherose Charania, of Women 2.0, thinks it is because women have had few role models and mentors. Additionally, it is harder for women to obtain funding than for men. She notes that historically, women-led companies have received less than 9% of venture capital investments; in 2007, the proportion of funded female CEOs dropped to 3%.

Vivek Wadhwa

Vivek followed up this post with another similar called ‘A Fix for Discrimination: Follow the Indian Trails’ which elaborated on this issue & offered some solutions:

How do we fix the “hidden biases” and discrimination?  The experts I’ve spoken to have many great ideas.  They suggest we create role models, provide mentorship and financing, and teach entrepreneurship. Foundry group’s Brad Feld says that simple acts of encouragement from parents, teachers, and peers would make a big difference.  Cindy Padnos, of Illuminate Ventures suggested a solution that particularly resonated with me.  She says that women should follow the trail mapped by Indian entrepreneurs (no, not the American natives, but my kind: the immigrants).

In addition to establishing stronger networks for these groups, we need to have the CEOs and CTOs of all of our top companies volunteer their own time to help others follow in their footsteps. They need to do this because this is the best path to diversity and this diversity will enrich their organizations. And we need to have VCs mentor the women and minorities they typically ignore. They need to do this not only for social good, but also for their own survival.

Vivek Wadhwa

ReadWriteWeb also published a post ‘You Can’t Launch the Next Generation of Startups Without Women’ by Pamela Poole which also covers women in IT businesses:

What I want to emphasize here is that we’re reaching this point with the Internet. Since the last bubble burst, it’s become second nature to ordinary people, and many of us can’t imagine life without it. This means that, today, non-technical entrepreneurs are just as likely to come up with viable startup concepts as programmers are. Neither the startup system, nor the traditional support system for small, brick-and-mortar businesses reflect this societal change yet, so there is a void that needs to be filled or we’ll miss out on opportunities for innovation from unlikely sources.

Pamela Poole

I totally agree with these points, it is important that we share our knowledge & experience in business.  Pioneer means a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.  Pioneers break ground and make it possible for others who follow to establish the territory.  So just as Indians now have a place & respect in The Valley, let’s pave the way for Women to share their entrepreneurial talents and establish some ground in The Valley too.  Let’s show them what we can do! 

Check out this great video “In The Valley” by Richter Scales at TechCrunch Crunchies.  Brilliant, enjoy…