Written By Cynthia Kocialski
There are many meetings in Silicon Valley about innovation, technology, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. If one of the panelists or speakers is a woman, inevitably someone asks the question why there aren't more women founders or more start-up women in technology and science. While the number of women small business owners hovers around 50 percent, the number of women founders of hi-tech start-ups is in the low single digits. What makes the technology industry different?
Many studies have calculated the numbers and percentages on this subject, but facts don’t tell the stories or give insightful reasons. Thinking back on numerous start-up companies I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with, only 2 percent to 7 percent of the technical staff were women – none had a woman as CTO, CSO, CIO, or Vice President of Engineering. Yet one CEO asked me one day why his start-up of 350 people couldn’t seem to attract more women engineers and programmers. It was great that he thought enough to ask the question, but his entire senior staff was men. I go to a lot of meetings whose target attendees are founders of start-ups. More often than not, I am one of only a couple of women in the meeting, and often the lone women in the meeting.
So what do women venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and founders think is the reason why there are so few women starting high tech companies, and how do they think men are different than women this community? Here are some comments they’ve made when asked these questions.