2017 felt like a turning point for women. The conversation is slowly shifting from “why didn’t you say anything before?” to “I’m sorry you had to go through that.” A slight but significant change that indicates a shift in mindset. However, in the light of change is a shadow cast on how systemic sexism is still echoing into some industries today.
No industry, except maybe Hollywood, exemplifies a more systemically archaic bias than tech, and while we can’t credit sexism to tech, the issues that arose from companies like Uber and SoFi last year are growing proof that it is deeply embedded and widely accepted.
According to TechCrunch, there was an 8 percent growth from 2009 to 2012 of venture-funded companies with female founders. However since, and leading directly up to 2017, venture-funded companies with female founders remain stagnant at 17 percent – exactly where growth peaked in 2012, nearly six years later. These stats, while disappointing, can maybe be reframed into something understandable given the climate of systemic sexism, and that’s a reach. However when looking at absolute numbers, where the number of companies with a female founder has increased almost 800%, it is proof of where the tech industry remains.
When it comes to venture funding, since 2012, female-founded startups have only received three percent of venture dollars while male-founded teams received 86-90 percent. On average, all-female teams raise $82 for every $100 an all-male team raises. With women not being given the same opportunities as men, progress for equality is an ongoing battle with an even steeper climb for women of color where, for example, black women represent only four percent of female-founded startups and receive .01% of total funding.
2017 did not end without a doubt that women are starting to feel empowered to bring a stark imbalance back to equilibrium. What has been exposed is proof that positive change and equality are moving, at what could only be considered, a sedated pace. Perhaps the way to action is addressing a culture of toxic masculinity and pride or perhaps it’s education, awareness and recognition of those less empowered. But regardless, the statistics are staggering.