This week, the Skyfall Blue team had the opportunity to attend a fantastic event called Perspectives from Female Founders & Funders. The event was hosted by L-SPARK, a startup incubator created to mentor and guide small tech startups and help them secure funding.
L-SPARK’s office in Ottawa’s Kanata North business hub was filled with over 200 investors, founders, mentors and consumers. The aim of the event was to initiate a frank and honest discussion about the difficulties women face working in a traditionally male-dominated tech industry, while also highlighting the female power that is slowly growing and thriving with the rise of female-driven businesses and the positive opportunities afforded to them.
Why talk about women in business?
Check out these statistics:
Only 5% of tech companies have a female CEO or founder.
About 13% of tech companies are comprised of women.
Only 8% of board members are women.
Approximately 33% of tech companies have absolutely no females on their board.
Looking at these figures, it’s clear to see that women are currently an underrepresented group within the tech industry. But here’s another statistic for you: women-led companies consistently outperform less gender diverse competitors – up to three times better! So how can we push forward to create a more gender diverse business model?
Solange Tuyishime opened the panel with the emotional story of her immigration from East Africa to Canada. She went on to discuss her belief in our ability, as a community, to change the position of women in the business and tech worlds. In her opening speech she said: “To be a leader it needs people to show up. Now, I think about what I can do for our community and the girls of the future.”
In the first panel, issues that women in business battle with on a daily basis were raised and discussed. Vicki Iverson, Co-Founder and CTO of Iversoft, examined the bias of asking women more preventive questions than men. She confirmed a study that Harvard Business Journal had discussed in the past, highlighting the fact that questions posed towards women are more defensive and negative, despite if being asked by men or women.
Another issue discussed by the panel, which was raised by Jennifer Francis, an advisor and angel investor, is the fact that women often get neglected when pitching to investors in comparison to their male competitors.
When males present their pitches to investors, they present their 3-year plan in a “best case scenario” view, while females take a more thought-out and realistic perspective. This appears to investors as the females being less ambitious than the males, though this is often not the case.
So how can we best prepare the young women of today to improve the lack of female representation in tech?
Diana Davies-Harju, CMO of Magnify advises: “It’s all about getting active and getting involved. We need to create opportunities and develop female role models. We need do less talking and more taking action.”
Jennifer Francis believes we need to invest more into female founder funding programs that will develop more female market leaders and eventually bring women up to work on an equal playing field as men in the business world.
What’s the bottom line?
It is vital and important that today’s young girls feel empowered to pursue career paths in the business world, and that we, as a community, continue to educate and support them. In our opinion, there has never been a more auspicious time to be a woman looking to break into in the tech industry.
We were excited and motivated by the powerful female voices of inspiring tech entrepreneurs ringing out in unison. Here are some of our favourite tips and advice taken away from this event from tech-savvy female entrepreneurs:
Susan Richards: “Necessity is the mother of invention. Think critically about the business model.”
Karla Briones: “Hire slow, fire fast. Hire the best people and get out of their way.”
Dr. Lindy Ledohowski: “Every time you walk into a room and negotiate, feel entitled and confident like you are a white American male.”
Terri Storey: “Enjoy every moment of the experience. Live in the moment and be grounded in it. Understanding your failures is understanding success.”
Sarah Daniele, CEO and Co-Founder of MyDoma Studio: “You cannot compare your beginning or middle to someone else’s end.”
Even if you are not in the tech industry, consider what your business can do to encourage and support a more gender diverse workplace. By raising women up, and offering them the same opportunities as their male counterparts, we can all benefit from a more diverse and inclusive working environment.
Are you looking to make some changes to your business? Or perhaps your business has undergone some internal changes recently, and you want to update your online presence to reflect your new direction. Whatever your needs, Skyfall Blue can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!
For more information regarding the L-SPARK event and our experience there, check out our social media channels!