ASTOUNDZ team members recently attended the Governor’s Business Forum for Women hosted by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. There, we listened to a series of women who pursued, are pursuing and will pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors. These women were diverse in age, ethnicity, and sources of income, but regardless of their backgrounds, many women incorporated technology into their businesses.
It is a common understanding that women are severely underrepresented in STEM careers. However, the technology space is evolving into a more female-inclusive environment. More women are encouraged to speak at tech events and have large followings on their blogs, spreading their knowledge from their experiences within the industry. So how do they make it work? How do they overcome the challenges of being a female in the industry, and how do they handle situations differently?
Exploring the Claims about Women in the Tech Industry
We interviewed with Carolyn Rodz to share her experience as a female entrepreneur in the technology and marketing space. Rodz is the founder of Alice, a collaborative accelerator that empowers women entrepreneurs to think bigger by connecting them with access to capital, resources, mentorship, and partners to fuel their growth.
“A panelist mentioned that female entrepreneurs are more likely to receive funding than males for their ventures from angel investors. Can you share anything about your experience that supports this claim?”
Rodz: It all has to do with relationships. Angel investors are looking at what these entrepreneurs bring to the company, and who they can trust and believe in. This is critical in the first stages of funding. Women naturally take the time to get to know people and build those relationships. When we have access to the network, it’s easier. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.
“Did you find that starting a technology company was generally less, more, or equally challenging as a female in this industry, and why?”
Rodz: I’d say it’s equally challenging. We certainly have disadvantages as women in terms of raising capital and gaining accessibility in the tech space. Like any space, it’s human nature for people to gravitate toward other people like them. On the flip side, there is a huge opportunity, awareness, and need for diversity in the technology industry. Early stages are much more difficult for women in building rapport with other men, but once you get past that and gain the credibility, you can better position yourself.
“What main points of advice do you have for women (or anyone) who wish to start a technological/online-based company?”
Rodz: Start small. So many times, I see founders trying to solve every piece of the puzzle without going to market. What helped us was building a series of small basic experiments to de-risk our assumptions. The faster you can put something out there (an offer, landing page, etc.), the easier it will be to make users loyal and part of the growth of your company. We have a very supportive user base – they tell us and we listen. It’s actually become part of our culture.
The Future of Women in Tech
Although many people, blogs, and companies claim that women are unequal to men in the technology industry, the success of the women in the panels and women like Carolyn Rodz proves that industry standards are changing. Don’t let the idea of a disadvantage actually create a disadvantage.
Carolyn Rodz left us with one more piece of advice: “For women, we tend to wait a little longer and it slows us down in the end. When you feel like you’re 80% there, just go for it. Do something. You just have to make it happen.”
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