Women entrepreneurs are rising to the start-up challenge

4 May 2017

Image: PAKULA PIOTR/Shutterstock

Women are climbing the ladder to entrepreneurial success, but how can we help them make it to the next rung?

Here at Siliconrepublic.com, we’re all about challenging bias and promoting diversity in the workplace. The need for such efforts is evident when you consider that the tech industry continues to be a male-dominated sphere.

Tech giants Google and Facebook have faced controversy recently over alleged pay disparities and gender bias, respectively, with Microsoft recently defending the falling numbers of women at the company.

And it’s not just in tech, but, rather worryingly, the workforce as a whole. The World Economic Forum warned last year that it would be 2186 before the gender gap is closed. Not in our lifetime, then.

Slightly discouraging stuff, no? However, it’s not all doom and gloom – not when you consider that serious progress is being made, and inspiring women are rising up to tackle the pervasive preconceptions and stereotypes that plague the world of work.

Irish support for women start-ups

For example, we recently spoke to some women-led start-ups that participated in NDRC Investor Day last December, with the likes of Glissed paving the way for young girls aspiring to create their own businesses.

Just last week, we welcomed news that the Leadership and Executive Acceleration Program (LEAP) for Irish and Irish-American women based in New York will arrive in Dublin this summer.

Yesterday (3 May), Enterprise Ireland launched its Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs, aiming to support start-ups led by women with a total investment of €750,000.

Furthermore, our own Inspirefest 2017 speaker line-up boasts a myriad of talented female founders, including Arlan Hamilton, Yvonne Mburu and Patricia Scanlon. The Astia Entrepreneur Showcase taking place at Inspirefest on 7 July will aim to link successful women entrepreneurs with potential investors.

Women Who Tech

Across the pond, we were delighted to learn that similar efforts were producing positive results. According to research from Women Who Tech – the organisation behind the Women Startup Challenge Europe competition that took place yesterday – more women are founding start-ups in the US than ever before.

As outlined in the Women Who Tech infographic below, there was a 68pc increase in women launching businesses in the US between 1997 and 2014. What’s more, women-led start-ups were three times more likely to receive venture funding than they were 15 years ago.

The country has a higher rate of women founders than any other developed economy. According to the below figures, if female businesses formed their own country, that country’s GDP would rank fifth globally.

Meanwhile, women entrepreneurs such as Xochi Birch (co-founder of Bebo) and Diane Greene (founder of VMare) have successful exits under their belt.

The key aspect to take away from all this? Women have made some impressive headway in the start-up stakes, but we cannot consider the job done.

Female founders need more investment, more encouragement and more of the spotlight so that they can continue to shine.


Infographic: Women Who Tech

Shelly Madden was sub-editor of Silicon Republic