Despite efforts, startups remain an eminently male playground.

Shall we once again take the point home? The world of start-ups continues to be a resolutely male environment. More precisely masculine, young and monocolor. And, unsurprisingly, the composite portrait of the typical start-up creator has changed little in 2019. According to the American company Crunchbase, which lists the investments made in this type of company, only two out of ten companies founded by a woman. The good news is that this number has doubled in ten years; the bad thing is that it is still very low.

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$92 out of 100 raised by men

Even more worrying is the difficulty women have in convincing investors. London-based venture capital fund Atomico surveyed 1,200 European start-ups last year for its annual report on the technological state of the Old Continent. His observation is relentless: in 2019, $92 raised out of $100 was raised by men. At the same time, representatives of the sex that must – only in this context – be called weak managed to collect 40 cents, the rest going to mixed teams.

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According to the same report, between 2015 and 2019, only 2% of fundraising was carried out by all-female teams, compared to 86% by the opposite sex. It should be noted in passing that, contrary to popular belief, southern European countries, Spain, Italy and Portugal, are slightly better students in this area than the rest of the continent.

Already few in number at the beginning, women now find themselves widely discriminated against in their struggle to obtain funding. Among the arguments used to explain such disparity, we cite less developed networks and less ease in – crucial – negotiations for fundraising. An indirect way of indicating that the world of start-ups is a universe made by men for men.

The most profitable women

However, the relevance of including women more broadly in the world of entrepreneurship arouses a very broad consensus. In 2018, the American firm Boston Consulting, for example, analyzed the financial performance of 350 companies, including 92 founded by women. Result: while the latter generated 78 cents per dollar invested, companies that were in the hands of men collected only 31 cents. Among the explanatory factors mentioned, a greater female aptitude for questioning and less financial greed in the search for financing.

Awareness is not new and women have taken their fate into their own hands. From Silicon Valley, a movement emerged to create venture capital funds for women. Melinda Gates, for example, allocated $300 million two years ago to this investment vehicle. The wife of the Microsoft founder just did it again. It announced releasing 50 million dollars to stimulate the same model in other American regions besides San Francisco and New York.

In Europe, similar initiatives are also flourishing, although it is more difficult to obtain a homogeneous picture of this landscape. The specialized website Crunchbase lists about a hundred funds launched by women, not all aimed exclusively at this audience.

Looking for female models

In recent years, many experienced women entrepreneurs – a word that is still only available in the masculine form – have also endeavored to inspire their peers, to encourage them to break through the famous glass ceiling. Specific events, exclusively women’s networks, prizes reserved for this sector… everything is done to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit of those who make up a good half of the planet’s population.

Unfortunately, the emulation remains very slow. Perhaps because there is still a lack of strong models in which most women identify. In the United States, Sheryl Sandberg, director of operations for the social network Facebook, has taken on this role with some success. But Europe is still looking for her icons.

However, after raising awareness, the time must come to take women into account in a world that likes to call itself progressive. Innovation circles were able to create innovation accelerators. Today, the economy urgently needs diversification accelerators.

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