Women in the startup industry have been faced with challenges of inequality for quite some time. Although the gender gap in startup culture is not new, the growing magnitude of women empowerment has led to an influx of women entrepreneurs and women venture capitalists. The purpose of this research is to look at the effects of women-only organizations, groups, networks and spaces that have surged out of the #MeToo movement and their effect on women in the startup industry.
This study utilizes a qualitative research method by means of nine in-depth interviews of women in the startup industry with varying degrees of experience, spanning both entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Each participant shared personal experiences on gender bias, networking, women-only organizations and provided suggestions on efforts to close the gender gap. As a result, while some women were members, supporters, and even a founder of a women-only organization, it was conclusive that women-only initiatives do not aid in furthering women in the startup industry.
While 56.6% of the participants are members of women-only organizations, groups, networks and spaces, an overwhelming 88.9% believe that these groups do not help women in business. The hypothesis of this study rings true that women-only initiatives do not solve the gender gap issue in the startup industry and in fact further segregates men and women. The interviews suggest that there are more important systemic issues to be addressed such as
diversity, inclusivity, education and views of gender roles. As evident from this research, men are not only welcomed but necessary in affecting change for women, therefore the best recommendation for closing the gender gap in the industry is promoting a more collaborative and inclusive startup culture.
To further this research, a global study across multiple countries would uncover a macro pattern of women entrepreneurs around the world. Another continuation of this research would be compiling a larger sample size of evenly distributed women across venture capitalism, entrepreneurship, and women-only networks and spaces while spanning a longer time period to track the success of their startups.