Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sweden May Be The Best Country To Be A Girl - But 90% Of VC Investments Still Go To Men

Via Business Insider:

This week was International Day of the Girl, and to mark the occasion Save the Children released a report stating that Sweden is the best country to grow up in as a girl. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – with low levels of teenage pregnancies, generous maternity leave and high proportion of female MPs, Sweden ranks consistently high in most gender equality studies. The private sector is also doing well – the number of female business leaders has more than doubled from 17% in 1998 to 37% in 2015.

Things are a bit gloomier in our tech industry.

Half of Sweden’s listed tech companies don’t have a single woman on the board. And while female business owners fail a lot less than their male counterparts, they only received 8% of all Swedish VC last year. And then there’s the female tech entrepreneurs whose businesses don’t get exposure as tech ventures, presumably because they solve what’s perceived to be “soft” issues. As a business developer I’ve seen numerous male VCs reject female tech entrepreneurs on the basis of them not having a tech background, as if that determines a great business idea.

Pretty ironic, considering how tech pioneers pride themselves on being at the forefront of positive change.

For this to be true, the Swedish tech scene needs to adopt a more inclusive language as well as mindset. Our strength does not only lie in our five unicorns, but equally in the tech companies solving issues that are faced by predominantly women. Natural Cycles and Linas Matkasse spring to mind - rarely mentioned as tech startups in media, both use tech to solve everyday issues.

This is not to say all is lost.

There’s a steady increase of girls in Sweden applying to do tech and programming on both college and university levels, incubators such as Minc offer entrepreneurs parental leave as to encourage more mums to explore the entrepreneurial route, and although 90% of all venture capital investments in Sweden still go to men, more than ever before is going to women.

Nevertheless, tech is about power.

And if we only consider tech solutions that have been brought forward by men to be worthy the epithet tech, we’ll inevitably see fewer investments in tech solutions by women, for women, and as a result girls will have fewer role models in tech. Tech is the future, and so are our girls. Excluding one from the other, in rhetoric or otherwise, benefits no one.

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