Startup Daily reported that only 24 % of Australian AgTech startups that have received funding since 2015 have a woman on their founding team.

I am often asked why most startup CTOs are men? Why there are more men entrepreneurs than women? Is there a mindset that men are more equipped for tech and leadership positions than women? Are men more innovative than women?It’s a sad fact that the tech industry is still vastly dominated by men. According to Huffingtonpost.com, only around 25% of all tech jobs are held by women. The number is even smaller for management roles, with only 14% of all CTO positions in tech companies are performed by women. Not to mention that only 5% of the Nobel Prize winners are female, even though women constitute over 50% of the world population.

 So, let’s deal with the myth first:

Females are not less creative, innovative or entrepreneurial than man!

However, they (or should I say- we) do need to overcome hurdles that men do not have in order to unleash our creativity, innovation and take the courage to prosper and shine above others. These obstacles, even the personal ones mostly stem from social expectations.1.     Men and women are equally innovative, but women are perceived as less innovative

Millward and Freeman found that while men and women are equally innovative, men are perceived as more innovative and risk-taking, and women are perceived as more adaptive and risk-adverse. This means that when men raise an initiative at work, people perceive it as innovative and when women introduce an initiative, it’s often perceived by others (be it male and female) as an adaptive solution. Millward and Freeman also found that innovative solutions were perceived to be more likely to be implemented if they were suggested by a male. Perception matters!

2.     Failure is more damaging to female

Millward and Freeman also noticed that men are expected by others to take more risks when innovating and that failure is less damaging to men because that’s part of taking risks. Women are expected to be less risky, and this limits their courage to innovate and share their innovative ideas. Failure is more damaging for women’s personal brand, so they are often more careful and adaptive in innovation. No wonder then why the fear of failure is a top concern of women who found start-ups. Innovation and entrepreneurship are processes of trial and error. There are more no’s then yes’s. We still live in a society that expects men to take risks and fail as part of the process while the message for the female is that they need to succeed at everything. On the other hand, a great success by a woman is often seen as too much…

3.     Girls are raised and educated in an anti-creative-business environment 

 Research shows that women and men are born with equivalent creative potential (Dr KH Kim). However, girls are often raised in an anti-creative-business environment climate. Boys are often encouraged by their families and the society to learn subjects such as STEM, finance, management, marketing, and entrepreneurship. As such, from childhood, women are not afforded the same resources and expectations as men are. This significantly contributes to the fact that fewer women found technology start-ups. For example, only 5%-15% of high-tech businesses are owned by women and only 8.3% of patents awarded by the European Patent Office are by women (Lymec.com).

4.     The support network and funding opportunities for women are much smaller than that of men

Female founders report that a lack of available advisers and mentors limits their professional growth (inc.com). It has been found again and again that women face limited access to funding. For example: though it could be unintentional, men fund people like them (gender, university etc.). VCs with female partners are more likely to invest in start-ups funded by a female. But how many of these do we have??? It is certainly easier for men founders to raise capital than women; except in cases when the woman has demonstrated her expertise and built her brand over time. First-time entrepreneurs’ male and female do not get the same opportunities!

So, how can we support increasing the women founders and co-founders’ talent pool?

  • Tailored founders training– It is important to enrich potential founders by creating unique training characterised by an inclusive entrepreneurial culture environment. It is not just about lean canvas, finance, marketing etc. We need to provide women with the right learning environment that will encourage entrepreneurship and take risks.
  • Support networks– We should continue developing the eco-system and develop formal and informal support networks for women to seek assistance and inspiration from.
  • Matching co-founders– Many founders are looking for co-founders. It’s harder than you may think… Working in pairs, men and women can do a better job of jointly developing new ideas and can potentially complement in management and scaling up the start-up.