First of all some figures: according to CrunchBase’s annual study of companies with at least one female founder in US based startups, has plateaued at 17% of companies. While the number as increased by 8% during the time period of 2009 – 2012, it raises the question as to why the number has not increased beyond 17%. More alarming is the stat on fundraising, of the $104 billion raised only $10 billion (9.6%) went to companies with at least one female founder however 91% / $94 billion was invested in male only founder companies. As recently as 2016, 43% of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all.
And even less in tech. I arrived in 2014 in Silicon Valley. MyScienceWork was selected to spend 3 months as an accelerating start-up in Sunnyvale at Plug & Play Tech Center. This represented the first time the MyScienceWork team went to California. In Silicon Valley, it is an exceptional place for entrepreneurship with “Change your World” mentality, inspiration from successful businesses, geek culture, prestigious institutions: Stanford University, Berkeley, UCSF, etc., leading biotechnologies, mental mentoring, complementary between mentors, investors, coaches, incubators, energy, dynamism, fun, etc.,
BUT … In Silicon Valley women are under-represented! Most of the start-up events to which I was invited to present to the Society, I was the only woman, usually 1 female guest for 15 men. In addition, the diversity is very low: the prototype of the CEO in tech is a white man between 40 and 50 years. There is very poor diversity in terms of color, age or religion. This observation may surprise you, innovation in Silicon Valley YES but not at the societal level.
How are women in tech and women in science candidates for the future for innovation and business value creation?
For me, the reasons that brought me to entrepreneurship were:
- The passion of science and a PhD which was an excellent training
- The need for a global vision
- To have an impact on society
- To accelerate technical or scientific innovation with greater resources
- To be surrounded by positive people
Investment funds dedicated to women are beginning to multiply. Economic indicators show that start-ups founded by women perform better on average. If more confidence in investments is made to fund women entrepreneurs, the benefits will follow. Women tend to be less prominent and more likely to reconcile their family life with their business women’s lives, but the result indicates that the Company is more stable and more sustainable.
Women scientists have a bright future ahead of them. They have excellent training, an open mind on discoveries and the world, an international experience and the habit of managing complex projects from A to Z. And here is a point of interest: women are tenacious and faced with difficulties have less tendencies to give up, we are stubborn!
A concrete example of a new investment fund that wants to invest and give confidence to women: Off The Grid Venture, I am proud to be one of their ambassadors.
Finally, and last point: create vocations! Female scientists need to engage in entrepreneurship. They need role model, visibility / prestige and triggers. Let’s give more words and deeds to women and put more value and actions in order to encourage vocations.
In May 2017, and for the first time (awareness of this need), a woman entrepreneur role model was created to promote the awakening of consciences. At the same time show that we were under-represented and put forward some women to create public examples. I was very proud to receive the Gold Award as a Women Role Model in the French American Business Award following other awards including the May 2016 ranking by The Berlin-based magazine, The Hundert, in the top 100 most successful female entrepreneurs in Europe.
So, it’s my turn to try to convince and inspire. I’m just starting this exciting fight! So please join me in spreading this good news of female entrepreneurship.