Female entrepreneurs are underrepresented in tech, and a recent study found that they are often overlooked for positions of power and responsibility.
The study, which was funded by the American Enterprise Institute and conducted by the nonprofit Catalyst, looked at 1,200 entrepreneurs who had founded at least two startups in the last decade and identified them based on whether they had female co-founders or female partners.
The results showed that nearly a third of the women in the cohort were either female cofounders (36.9 percent) or partners in a partnership (24.3 percent).
And in nearly three-quarters of the cases, both cofounding partners were female.
This is despite the fact that women hold just 16 percent of the corporate-level executive positions in the United States, according to the American Association of Colleges and Employers.
Catalyst is encouraging female entrepreneurs to consider taking their own business opportunities, and the group has even launched a website to help female entrepreneurs navigate the hiring process.
It is also providing mentorship and networking opportunities to female entrepreneurs in the hopes that more will make the leap to the workforce.
“It’s a matter of doing it right,” said Stephanie Rabin, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania who was part of the research team.
“And that means having an entrepreneurial mindset, and being prepared for your business to succeed.”
For some women in tech — a field that has traditionally been dominated by white men — the stereotype has become even more entrenched.
“The idea that you have to be an expert in your field to get a job is not necessarily true for the majority of women,” said Amanda Sartore, who works as a marketing manager in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Most of the people who work in tech are women.”
The perception that women are less capable in tech has also impacted their ability to succeed, said Sartire, who has worked with female entrepreneurs for a decade.
“I’m not saying that there aren’t good women who are doing great things.
I’m just saying that it’s not an accurate representation.”
For women in technology, this is often due to a lack of female mentors or leaders.
“Women have to feel like they have to do more than just pitch in and talk to their boss,” Sartorye said.
“That’s a pretty big barrier for women in a lot of industries.”
The study also found that while women are more likely to work for companies with a male CEO or board of directors, they are less likely to be able to navigate that culture, especially in tech.
And while Sartoria said that many women have made it into top positions at companies, she believes that it takes a lot more to become a successful entrepreneur than just having the right skills and networking skills.
“You need to be a really good listener,” she said.
But despite these obstacles, women in Silicon Valley are working to change the landscape.
In 2016, Sartora and a team of students launched the #BeGreatInSilicon Valley movement to help young women build their own successful companies in a space that historically has not been considered a “women-friendly” workplace.
The group aims to raise awareness about the impact of gender inequality on women in this industry, and encourage female entrepreneurs and their partners to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.
“We know that there are still barriers, but it’s also important to take action,” SARTORE said.
In recent years, the #begreatinsilicon valley campaign has become a regular part of college and high school student events, with a handful of students participating in a “Silicon Alley Moment” on the UC Berkeley campus in 2017.
The event was created by the campus chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) as a way to empower young women to get involved in entrepreneurship.
“A lot of the time, there’s a lot less awareness around this issue,” said Katie Bochenek, who is an engineering student at UC Berkeley.
“But when you get a bunch of your friends who are interested in tech and you’re able to talk about it, you can make a difference.
You can create a buzz around the idea.”
For more stories from the Bay Area, subscribe to The Verge’s YouTube channel.