Women are often faced with disadvantages among many industries in contrast to the their male counterparts, and startups appear to be no exception. In fact according to TechCrunch, only 17% of Startups have a female founder.
Encouraging women to succeed within the startup community is not only beneficial for equality, but it can also help the industry overall. According to The Guardian, female lead companies produce three times the returns of companies that are predominantly male led.
Moreover, female-led companies are also improving fairness, creating an environment with greater inclusive leadership allowing staff to thrive and drive innovation.
Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, says, “If we are serious about being an innovation nation, we need to start improving gender diversity in industries that will be growth areas in the years to come.”
According to a study featured in a New York Times article, women have a greater overall impact on teams. The study suggests that smarter teams contribute equally when working together, and were able to read complex emotional states from images when only the eyes were visible. As previously indicated, teams containing more women outperformed those with more men.
In order for women to have a more prominent role within the startup community it is important to recognise where we are currently failing and how we can improve. Some tech giants have acknowledged the lack of women within their companies and are actively try to address this.
For example, Microsoft hosts the DigiGirlz programme from their offices around the world, with the intention of igniting girls’ interests in technology. On top of this, they also offer a Microsoft Women’s Professional Development Series, which includes networking events, speakers, and a women’s leadership and development conference twice a year, specifically for employees worldwide.
Europe’s first accelerator aimed at empowering women
According to a recent study, “New World With Old Roles?”, published by the Vodafone Institute, they found that only around nine percent of technology startups worldwide are founded by women. Furthermore, the report also found that many female startup founders feel at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts.
As a result, The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications has established F-LANE, the only accelerator in Europe with a focus on startups that empower women through technology.
It is a 6-week programme for digital impact ventures. Applicants can apply from around the world with the aim of producing a business empowering women and creating a wider impact using technology.
Four or five female startup entrepreneurs are then selected to take part in their Berlin based programme.
The previous programme received applications from roughly 150 startups from 50 different countries in the first round. Since its conception F-LANE has striven to create a unique working environment within Berlin, notably one of the greatest startup capitals in the world right now.
“We offer the teams free coworking spaces in one of most inspiring places right in the centre of the German capital – the Impact Hub Berlin. As a participating start-up, you automatically receive a one year-membership of the Impact Hub, free access to more than 80 spaces and the opportunity to network with over 13.000 social innovators,” states the F-Lane website.
“Besides the training sessions and impulses during the day, the programme provides networking events and links to Vodafone business units after your work is done. Accommodation in Berlin is taken care of by us – in one of the hippest neighbourhoods of the city. You will have your own apartment and still have the chance to exchange learnings with the other teams,” the description adds.
If you feel this is a perfect fit for your business, F-LANE are currently accepting applicants until the 24th of July for their upcoming round (6. Oct – 17. Nov).
Women play a vital role when creating a fair and equal work environment. Therefore, we must aim to address the current inequality we are facing through the use of enabling programs like F-LANE. If we can ensure that both genders are given an equal opportunity we may have a higher success rate for new startups benefiting the industry as whole.