Although women now earn more than 50 percent of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees and nearly half of all doctorate-level degrees, they still start only 3 percent of technology companies and are virtually absent from the governing bodies of 40 percent of large public companies. And although venture-backed women-led companies produce 12 percent higher revenues than those run by males, they usually start off with just one-eighth of the financial backing of male-led businesses.
But according to the report “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World,” the tide may be turning for women entrepreneurs in the technology industry.
Singularity University’s Vivek Wadhwa and the Kaufmann Foundation’s Lesa Mitchell co-led the study, which surveyed 500 women in the tech sector inside and outside the US. Wadhwa recently spoke about the study’s results at a San Francisco conference organized by Women 2.0, a media company whose mission is to inspire, inform and educate female founders of technology startups.
Wadhwa, who has degrees from Stanford and Duke, pointed out to the mostly female crowd that although women entrepreneurs have traditionally lagged behind their male counterparts, they are now gaining ground in certain key areas. The median age of women entrepreneurs, for example, has dropped from 41 to 32 since a smaller study conducted in 2009. Also, the percentage of female founders with a graduate-level education has risen from 40% to 56% since the earlier study. Wadhwa’s research confirms similar studies conducted by the Credit Suisse Research Institute and analysis by Dow Jones VentureSource.
Although gender and racial disparities still exist in Silicon Valley, Wadhwa is optimistic about the future of women entrepreneurs in the field. He encouraged them to “set their sights on bigger, international problems such as improving health care, delivering clean water, and harnessing Internet data to improve education and lift people out of poverty.”
The study is scheduled for publication in spring 2013.
Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, 2012. Women @ Work [infographic]
Klein, Karen. “Women Who Run Tech Startups Are Catching Up” Bloomberg Businessweek. February 20, 2013.