Women and Entrepreneurship: Thoughts on Closing the Startup Gender Gap

Women EntrepreneurNovember 24, 2014 – It’s an open secret that Silicon Valley, despite its success as an incubator of innovation, is not getting an A+ for its encouragement of women as entrepreneurs. A recent rash of bad press has hit the Valley, with prestigious companies like Google and Facebook taking a hit vis-a-vis their gender inequities. A recent Senate Report painted a rather grim picture of how far Silicon Valley needs to go to close the Startup Gap. One focus: access to venture capital and funding.

Is Education on Entrepreneurship the Answer?

Education is often positioned as the answer to discrimination, and it certainly is part of the solution. But the puzzling fact is that women now compete quite well, thank you very much, in the educational arena with many top schools like Harvard, Stanford, and UC Berkeley reporting sharp increases in their female populations (admittedly not as much in key areas like computer science, programming and other STEP areas).

But education isn’t an end in itself, and at Draper University our philosophy is very hands-on, very practical. Which brings us back to funding. Are women taught how to present to Venture Capitalists? Are women taught how to “pitch” their ideas for capital? This isn’t a skill widely taught in business and marketing programs across the country, and in fact, many women entrepreneurs may be out of college, or have majored in a subject that wasn’t business. Draper University is focused on addressing that gap: providing a gender equal, equal access, “crash course” in entrepreneurship, which includes the mysterious topic of how to pitch one’s ideas to venture capitalists. Practical training is certainly part of the solution to closing the female gender gap.

Famous Draper University Female Alumni Entrepreneurs

In fact, we at Draper University can proudly point to some very famous alumni. For example, there’s Surbhi Sarna, whose start up nVision Medical focuses on early detection of ovarian cancer.

Collete Davis of TechDrive, a startup focusing on the intersection of technology and transportation and Kerstin Karu, of BlastBuzz, which is a social media service to amplify "buzz." So we have quite a diversity in former alumni... But what's even more important is the future alumni, both male and female, that we are "growing" at Draper University. The first step towards closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship starts with education, especially education that is open to anyone - before, during, or after - their "formal" education. Practicality knows no sex, and the point is to teach women to pitch their ideas (among other things to learn) in such a way that their ideas gain equal footing with their male counterparts. Success in the marketplace, after all, should be gender neutral.