Women are changing the face of technology. More and more women are being noticed as developers in the technology space, from Silicon Valley to Silicon Prairie to nearly every major metropolitan area. These women are making the actual product, coding, and hacking (now there are female-only hackathons, where developers spend a short burst racing to develop a program).
In addition to creating, women are also running technology spheres like never before. From founding their own companies to leadership positions, it's clear that technology isn't a boys club anymore.
For all of the advances in gender equality in the technology world, there are still certain tribulations that affect female founders more than their male counterparts. One area where there is a stark difference is in raising funds for companies. Why is this? We talked to the CEOs of three female-founded startups about what issues they face in the business.
CareerFuel is a social entrepreneurship site founded by AnnMarie McIlwain, a former marketing executive and consultant to large brands like Johnson & Johnson (among other Fortune 100 companies). CareerFuel.net connects people with the information and inspiration they need in order to get jobs and start businesses. Furthermore, it's the only site that also has short films with real people who made their dream businesses happen.
CareerFuel aggregates content about jobs, the workplace, how to get funding, or job listings. To boot -- it's entirely free. McIlwain was inspired to create this hub after her own struggles with a startup as well as the pain and confusion that affected her husband after he lost his job.
Though McIlwain has fought her way to a successful and growing business, she believes that the way women pitch themselves sand their businesses can be a setback in the industry but also while looking for jobs. It also happens when asking for funding.
"Women are a lot less confident," says McIlwain, "we tend to not go after institutional money. We ask for less. It's tough enough to put yourself out there. Men perceive us differently. That's more than perception - it's reality. No one's ever coached women to think like investors, think that they have the power to invest."
Sonya Waterworth saw a major opportunity for film distribution after punching the clock with networks like CBS and Entertainment tonight. She co-founded Yekra, an LA-based film distribution, marketing and technology company created to digitally deliver movies direct to consumers through socially connected communities.
Yekra puts the power of distribution back into the hands of filmmakers, versus ad-saturated video streaming sites or other aggregators that provide very little return to the creators. Currently only 5 percent of independent films receive a distribution deal; Yekra intends to correct this shortcoming by making profitable digital distribution widely accessible to rights holders.
Though Waterworth has given tremendous rights back to those creatives in Hollywood that don't have a voice, she finds that she and other women entrepreneurs struggle to find their voice and place among founders.
"Raising funding is a necessity and a problem for all entrepreneurs. Like most start-ups we have had to go through a couple rounds of funding to get the wheels turning in the beginning and it has been more art than science." She advises women to "own your core risk as a business, know your business inside out, listen to an investors comments (they obviously have experience), and never be scared to ask for what you really need," she said.
The One-Page Company was founded by Joanna Riley Weidenmiller, a former executive coach as well as a specialist in marketing and strategic partnerships. Weidenmiller began her company as a way to make branded communication tools for corporations and individuals to write effective proposals in a one page format. Riddled with information and huge packets of material, Weidenmiller knew that companies needed to downscale and pitch themselves effectively in a one-page document.
The One-Page Company is building the world's largest online platform to become to proposals what Google is to search, beginning with jobs. The traditional resume is dead," says Weidenmiller.
"What the companies need is a clear understanding of a job seekers value within a specific organization, not a general laundry list of past experience. Our goal is to eliminate the friction in the hiring process, which means providing a platform where both company and candidate can understand the value proposition in one page."
Weidenmiller's venture has made tremendous strides, though she acknowledges the troubles that face women trying to raise money.
"The challenge women face today raising venture money is clear -- 1 percent venture capital money goes to women," she says. "However the opportunity is huge, and investors are starting to recognize what women bring to the table. Recently the numbers have shown women in leadership positions have a direct impact on the bottom line. Corporations with a large percentage of women on the executive team report returns that are 35 percent higher returns, do to our ability to have a long term vision, accountability, less risk-adverse, innovation, leadership, and team-building ability. I believe my success in raising came from the ability to show my passion for the vision of One-Page, my desire to win, and I was NOT afraid to hear 'No.'"
These three female founders offer insight into the difficulties that women entrepreneurs face in a predominantly male field. Though there are difficulties women encounter while raising capital -- namely the issues outlined above, there are more and more women emerging as technology leaders in Silicon Valley and nationwide.