AUTHOR: Jurga Zilinskiene
DATE: March 15, 2022
Women in Technology: Investing only 1% of VC money into female founders won’t create more female winners
The news that just 1% of venture capital (VC) money is invested into female tech founders is startling. You suddenly understand how endless talk about creating more female winners in technology ignores a big elephant in the room.
Compare the latest research for 2021 and the results paint a depressing picture. The European technology sector is an ecosystem valued at $3 trillion and last year VC investment topped $100 billion in annual funding. However, Atomico’s report shows only 1.1% of that investment went to help female founders. This is less than the 2.4% the previous year. In the US, the share is just 2%, the smallest since 2016.
Thus, it’s official, men do invest in men and bias against women is getting worse. Women are ultimately excluded from the funding party however amazing they may be. Many studies have concluded that girls outperform boys at school and yet men are proven to be rewarded with more money and better C-Suite status than women.
The challenge for women in technology
This situation is bad because it creates a vicious social cycle. Today there are few female tech entrepreneurs to inspire young women in technology. Bias plays a big part in this. If the cycle continues, there will be no improvements to inspire girls that want to code. Consequently, fewer women will start tech companies and GDP will not increase.
This challenge goes back hundreds of years. And the worst thing about this is men and women keep calling for more data. They do this because doing more official research makes you feel secure. Trust me, it improves nothing. Speaking at Chatham House in 2019, I told how to solve this challenge.
Promotion and positivity
The best way to help more women in technology succeed is not endless research. Instead, you apply learning that is guaranteed to get results. In education and work, that includes positive action to help women, and targets to promote amazing women. I know this because, I have trained, helped, and promoted some of the most sensational women you will ever know. Other organisations have helped girls and women in a positive way too and seen remarkable results. See what the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce (GHWCC) and Chaucer do to inspire women and girls.
Helping the few women who do code and do create revolutionary tech needs more money too. Giving female tech founders more than just 1-2% share of the $100 billion pie will pay a big bonus. Look at the new AI-powered technologies that my development team have created. All delivered during the pandemic and backed by amazing partners at Innovate UK and Sheffield Hallam University.
How Guildhawk supports women in technology
You can imagine how honoured I am to get such support since I am one of those rare female tech founders. You should also know that most of our development has been funded by my company. Guildhawk reinvests profits back into its people and R&D. We do this since it is good for society and creates new technologies. When you get results from this sort of investment, the feeling is magical. It inspires you and the entire team with confidence and a desire to do more.
This year is the 21st anniversary of my founding Guildhawk, the language company that became a tech business. The years quickly passed like weeks and even receiving our Queen’s Award feels like yesterday. Throughout your lifetime you meet people who inspire and help you. Parents, teachers, friends, authentic people who simply want to see you succeed.
Don’t listen to those who say you can’t
I saw some graffiti on a red brick wall in Sheffield that read, ‘Don’t listen to those who say you can’t, listen to the one that says you can!’. Doing that elevates you off the ground, like the kid painted beside those words on the wall. Many people did inspire and teach me, and my success is ultimately due to their help.
It is sad when people give up, especially when this is caused by someone telling them they can’t do something. If you are like me, that just makes you want to do it even more. When you are encouraged, you go into overdrive. That’s why a founding principle at Guildhawk is to always dream harder and try. After all, we do live in what I call the Age of the Wild Experiment where revolutionary things do happen.
Now, there is no guarantee that dreams create the next big revolutionary thing but there is one ironclad road to ruin. It applies to all sexes, and it is creating illusions of success. The belief that you can get more money quickly and easily, without hard work. TV and social media helped create this unhealthy way of life. Millions are inspired by reality TV celebrities and influencers offering their secrets to be more beautiful, rich and happy.
The need for Female Influencers
How many female influencers inspire women to learn to build software to protect our environment? How many female influencers love engineering and maths and want to build robots and spaceships? We do need more new female faces to immediately spring to mind – more women like Hedy Lamarrs and Annie Easley.
You cannot fake knowledge and passion for technology either as it must be in your soul. Its comical to see many influential men and women who couldn’t code to save their lives talking about AI and skills. In some cases, my 6-year-old granddaughter Polly has a better understanding of the power of machine learning.
So, in conclusion, for women in technology to win they must be backed by investors. Awarding 98% of VC investment to male tech founders did not help many women in 2021. Worst of all, women with amazing talent who surrender their dreams do not help women. And people who listen to get rich influencers or promote coding without coding, well you know my views.
Let me close by saying a big thank you to all the amazing men and women who do inspire me every day and did help this little girl fall in love technology, arts and life.