Why Give a Damn:
Guest Scribe Abigail West takes a look at how technology startups, particularly those started by women, are changing the mobile landscape–and how you can be part of it.
The author of this post, Abigail West, is a writer and frequent business publication contributor. She is a super rad entrepreneur herself and often writes about women in business.
The tech startup arena has historically been considered a “boys club” comprised of male entrepreneurs. However in recent years, a large number of female led companies have seen success in mobile app development. Despite significant strides by female entrepreneurs in tech, recent statistics suggest that wide gender disparities still exist in America.
According to the Huffington Post, women generate $1.9 trillion in annual revenue. They also held more than 50% of advanced degrees conferred in the 2008-2009 academic year.
Even with considerable gains in achievement and credentials, the financial and business landscape for female entrepreneurs is statistically imbalanced compared to their male counterparts. In 2009, women earned less than 10 percent of all angel investment distributed and represented 11 percent of VC supported companies. From a leadership census taken in the same year, female owned companies held just 15 spots on the Fortune 500 and less than three percent of women lead “high growth” firms (defined as generating $1 million or more per year).
Despite these inequities, a recent Mashable article profiled the success of more than 40 female entrepreneurs who have recently launched successful startups, including many projects in the tech sector. Many of the most popular smartphone and mobile device apps on the market are designed by women, including Chomp, A La Mobile, Camera+ and Mobsmith. Successful female entrepreneurs have become commonplace throughout the startup world — no small feat, considering that women only represent a quarter of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector.
One of the most inspiring startup success stories belongs to Jennifer Pahlka, who created Code for America — a company that the Washington Post described as “the technology world’s equivalent of the Peace Corps or Teach for America.” A Yale grad, Ms. Pahlk was a major force in the tech world. She spearheaded initiatives such as the Independent Games Festival, Gamer’s Choice Awards and the Game Developers Conference . She launched Code for America in 2009, a non-profit organization that enlists trained web designers and software developers to essentially retool outdated programs still utilized by municipal governments across the country. In addition to building connections between web users and their local government sites, another aim of the company is to connect web users with one another. In a CNN profile, she states “Code for America believes that we can make government work the way citizens want it to, and what we need to do to get that path in is to bring talented web developers together with innovators in city government and just re-imagine a new government that works for citizens.” Ms. Pahlk serves as a strong example to aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Within the past few years, an unprecedented number of resources have emerged specifically to support women taking on entrepreneurship.
One example is Ladies Who Launch, a media group that connects business-oriented women and allows them to exchange ideas within a community-style format. The National Association of Women Business Owners also provides myriad resources, including data for market research analysis and discounted services related to entrepreneurial operations (such as starting a business credit line). And the eWomenNetwork, a membership-based site, offers free mentoring and promotional services from experienced female entrepreneurs.
Across the country, female entrepreneurs are leading startup companies to success — and in the process, debunking the myth that business management is a “man’s game.” As today’s solopreneurs uphold a positive presence in the corporate sector and eventually serve as career coaches for young up-and-coming innovators, the role of women in the startup world will continue to grow in years to come.
An Unreasonable Challenge:
Whether you’re male or female take advantage of two business resources this week–one online and one in person near you–to kick start your business or project. Important: make sure you take the time to get serious about implementing what you learn!
Photo: CC-By Joi Ito-SA