Exchanging information, celebrating each other’s successes, the act of learning as a group - all this collective experience feels like a powerful counteraction to the plain-as-day fact that startup culture is not exactly women-friendly. By Angelina Strosahl (Co-Founder, DonationPay)
I was lucky enough to attend the Women 2.0 "The Next Billion" Conference last Thursday and it was a profound, fun, energizing, endlessly fascinating experience.
Some personal highlights include Lynda Weinman (yes, that Lynda!) name-checking our shared alma mater (oh, Evergreen!) twice in her rousing closing keynote, our fellow Astia cohort business Bia winning the People’s Choice Pitch award, and a whip-smart, high-impact presentation from the great Paula Long, on her strategy and experience in achieving a billion dollar exit.
While all the sessions and presentations were well-coordinated, riveting and staffed by experts willing to contribute candidly, the most rewarding experience I had at the conference was a fantastic lunch with Elaine Wherry, founder of recent Google-acquisition Meebo, and Chandini Ammineni from Activity Hero.
The organizers of the conference offered the option to attendees to sign up and sit at ‘mentoring’ tables, with other female entrepreneurs who are further along in the funding/business growth pipeline (in the case of Elaine and Chandini, a very successful exit and a recently locked-down a Series A round of funding, respectively). These tables had 3-6 attendees who’d signed up for the program, and 1-2 ‘mentors’ who contributed their time and led the discussions at each table.
Elaine and Chandini’s openness and generosity in shepherding of the conversation at our table produced a powerful and unifying experience that made me think hard about why spaces that emphasize women’s power are still so very important. Exchanging information, celebrating each other’s successes, the act of learning as a group - all this collective experience feels like a powerful counteraction to the plain-as-day fact that startup culture is not exactly women-friendly.
- Women own/lead less than 5% of startups.
- 40% of large public companies have not one woman on their boards/governing bodies.
- Only 3-5% of all women-owned businesses receive venture capital funding.
- Women-owned, venture backed businesses begin with 1/8th of the funding that male-led companies start with. But women-led companies produce 12% higher revenues. Women working full-time make 77¢ for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Women of color working full-time still make between 54¢ and 62¢ on the dollar.*
Facts like these are what makes the construction of conceptual spaces dedicated to improving the experience of female leaders in business, technology and development so critical. I just wanted to say a big public ‘thank you!’ to Women 2.0 for holding the line and putting together such a fantastic event - combatting entrenched sexism has never been so much fun :)
Women 2.0 readers:
About the guest blogger: Angelina "AJ" Strosahl is Co-Founder of DonationPay, an innovative, affordable and agile online fundraising service for non-profit organizations and community groups. She blogs about the non-profit sector, with a focus on technology, social network marketing and other random stuff that strikes her fancy. Angelina is passionate about helping non-profits optimize their online fundraising potential. When she's not at work, she's usually playing Scrabble, writing, or hiking with her dogs. Contact her at email@example.com.