There is a power in entrepreneurship that is unparalleled by any other facet of tech. Forming your own startup, seeing your own business model take launch, getting involved in the trenches with your own product – these are all relatively difficult things that are high-risk and high-reward. That doesn't stop many from pursuing it, though!
I myself have had many curiosities in the fields where STEM and business overlap. It's incredibly interesting to gain knowledge and research, but it's even more exciting when that has been processed and implemented into real-world applications. Google started out in a cramped garage in a Northern California suburb, but it's worth billions today.
So, it would make sense that thousands of our bright minds at universities across the nation are eager to become entrepreneurs, right? Correct.
And that includes men and women. Now, this seems obvious, but in fact it's actually much more complicated than that.
Business, similar to tech, is a very alpha-male dominated world. Generally, men are given the edge when it comes to authority and leadership. For example, a man might be praised for his aggressive managing tactics, but when a woman does something remotely the same, it is seen as "controlling" and "bossy". Bossy – when that's their job.
So how does this play into tech? It's very simple. More and more startups are now being founded by males, and the whole culture has wrapped itself around this fact.
Harvard Business Review recently released an excellent study about how venture capitalists (those who provide seed money for fledgling entrepreneurs) view men and women differently when dealing with funding. This is an incredibly important: how these people see these women plays directly into the amount of money they receive and the resulting potential for success. The differences HBR found was dramatic – the language utilized to speak of the men and women was varied by much.
Language is key in connotation – certain words can mean the same thing but imply different feelings.
For example, the inexperience of many men was listed as "young and promising", but for the women, it was listed as just that: "young, but inexperienced". These slight changes of words indicate that the men as a whole (even though they had similar qualifications to the women) were automatically viewed as superior due to their gender. This is directly responsible for the lack of funding females receive – they're immediately viewed as inadequate!
As stated above, the women were often praised for their looks, but assumed to be "careless with money". This gross bias is what inhibits many of the brightest female minds – in tech and business – from pursuing their own innovation and ingenuity.
To stop it, we need to work together to rid ourselves of our bias and see people for what they're actually worth: their potential.