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Female founders remain under represented across Europe

It may feel at times like a lonely world for business founders, as they push on to realise their growth ambitions in a world that is at best apathetic and, at worst, can be hostile. But spare a thought for female founders, who face similar challenges but with the added knowledge they are less likely to raise funding and can find fewer role models and mentors for support. When you extend this further to look at founders working in a traditionally male dominated sector such as technology, the news gets worse, as the odds are stacked still further against female founders.

This is the slightly depressing news from the latest research by Startup Genome, which has just published a report on the representation of female leaders and women working in the European tech startup ecosystem. The report paints a grim picture, with its headline finding that in most major European cities, less than a quarter of professionals working in tech are women. Meanwhile, the share of female tech founders remains under 15%. This is a minor improvement over the last decade (up from about 8% in 2010) but is still way too low.

Looking at individual cities, London ranks top with a 13% share of female founders, 17% share of early-stage funding going to female founders and 26% of LinkedIn members working in tech functions being women, closely followed by Paris and Berlin. Although the methodology seems to be weighted somewhat in favour of larger cities, it is worth noting that the scale-up success rate of female founders is highest in Brussels, Amsterdam and Barcelona. In Brussels it is slightly higher than the success rate for male founders.

A scintilla of hope

There is an old Jack Welch adage that what’s measured is what matters. While the data present a stark and somewhat depressing picture of how far there is still to go, the fact such reports are being collected, and the situation looked at should mean there is more awareness of the issues it raises. This, in turn, may present a small glimmer of hope that things might start to be rectified and changed in the years ahead. And a small glimmer of hope is all an entrepreneur ever needs.