In November, New York will host the latest iteration of the Women Startup Challenge. The event is organized by Women Who Tech founder Allyson Kapin. Ten women-founded tech startups from the northeast (New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) will compete on stage while being judged by women investors and venture capitalists.
The competition is aimed at women in the startup technology business because few female entrepreneurs have access to capital. Maci Peterson and her company On Second Thought took home the prize at a recent version of the event that took place in Washington, DC. On Second Thought lets people unsend text messages before they arrive on the recipient’s phone. Peterson will be on the judging panel of the New York event.
A 2012 Dow Jones study stated that only 7 percent of venture-capital dollars go to women-led startups. In January of this year, Forbes posted an article featuring the top 15 startups that people need to watch out for in 2015. Of the 15 startups on that list, only two of them were founded by women completely and one on the list was founded by both a man and women.
The tech industry can’t seem to shake the image of nerdy guys working in boys-only clubs. One reason why women aren’t pursuing tech jobs is because they’re only exposed to the dated images of males being the heads of tech. Movie biographies of guys like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg reinforce images that women have no place in Silicon Valley.
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and co-sponsor of the competition, claims the reason there are so few women in the tech industry is “a combination of dated corporate culture and attitudes, and cluelessness among male humans about women in business, speaking broadly. In tech we aspire to meritocracy, and do a better job than many, but don’t get more than halfway there.”
According to research conducted in 2012 by the Girl Scouts of America, only 13 percent of female teens consider science, technology, engineering or mathematics to be their number one career choice. Girls don’t have enough female role models in tech so they aren’t pursuing careers in tech which hinders women being in tech.
(featured image via Chris Monk)