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Gender inequality still rife among tech startups: Startup Genome

Melissa Sheil
Melissa Sheil
// // New research shows the average amount of female tech founders is only 15%...

Despite the leaps made towards improving gender disparity in the workforce in recent years, a new survey has found that progress has not yet translated into the tech startup world.

The study, conducted by Startup Genome, found that of the 5,469 respondents surveyed across 67 global ecosystems between 2016 and 2022, 31% reported having at least one female founder.

However, the overall average of female founders (calculated by total number of female founders divided by number of startup founders surveyed) is just 15%.

Why are the results so skewed?

Megan Del Borello, founder of Perth-based female entrepreneurship acceleration program We Are Emersyn, says these results are unsurprising, as women still face several challenges and barriers when it comes to starting and growing their own businesses. 

Gender inequality still rife among tech startups: Startup Genome
Megan Del Borello. Photo: We Are Emersyn.

“The top [challenge] is access to funding,” Megan said.

 “Women often have a harder time securing funding for their startups compared to men. 

“Balancing responsibilities is another major challenge. Starting a business requires a significant amount of time and energy, which can be difficult to manage when also caring for children or other family members.

Women may also have a harder time accessing networks and mentorship opportunities that are essential for building a successful startup. This is because the startup industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and women may not have the same connections and support systems as men.

Megan Del Borello, Founder, We Are Emersyn

International snapshot

In better news, the research shows that Oceania is leading the way, globally contributing the highest overall percentage of female founders at 21.6%.

This figure was heavily influenced by Brisbane holding a record 43% female founder rate.

Megan believes this is partly due to positive institutional and cultural pushes both state and national wide. 

“The fact that Brisbane has [such a high rate] of female founders and pushed Australia up in the rankings, shows that the Queensland government’s policies and initiatives [in Victoria] like the Alice Anderson fund to support and encourage women in entrepreneurship are having a positive effect in building a strong and inclusive startup ecosystem. 

“I think there has also been a slight cultural shift in Australia towards gender equality, which is starting to slowly break down traditional stereotypes and has led to more opportunities and support and recognition for women in entrepreneurship.”

Gender inequality still rife among tech startups: Startup Genome
Source: Startup Genome.

Following Oceania was North America at 15.7% (buoyed by Chicago’s 31%), then Asia at 14.9%, Sub-Saharan Africa at 14%, Europe and Latin America both at 12.6% and Middle East/North Africa trailing with only a 10% average of startups having a female founder.

What can be done to improve this?

Megan believes the solution is multifaceted.

“We do need to take a gender specific approach as few women self-identify as entrepreneurs, and are less likely to participate in programs that are not specifically targeted and designed for females. 

“The gender specific approach will increase female participation rates and that leads to women deepening their capacity for starting and scaling businesses, and they will act as role models for future female entrepreneurs.

“And of course again…increased access to funding.”


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Melissa Sheil

Melissa Sheil

Melissa is a journalist, currently based in Europe. She has experience writing about the Australian music scene, parenting and real estate.
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