Chris Cameron on www.readwriteweb.com asks the question: why aren’t there more women in the VC/entrepreneurial space? I’m not so sure it’s such a hard question to answer, and I think the basic numbers in the supporting fields tell the story. (Not that I have specific numbers, but I base my opinion on general observation.)
More men than women enter into science and engineering disciplines in school. In certain fields men outnumber women by a very large margin, especially electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, and physics. This shouldn’t be a surprise as the news is constantly talking about how few American children in general excel and pursue math and science education, and how the number of girls going on to study higher level science and math is very low.
When these engineers and scientists graduate, by definition, more men than women go to work in the high tech industry in creative, inventive, scientific/engineering jobs. (Two points to emphasize here: 1) A lot of women do work for high tech companies, but not in engineering and R&D. 2.) I cannot dismiss the fact that I have more often than not been the only woman in a room full of engineers at multiple companies.)
If just a small subset of that group become entrepreneurs, again more men than women are going to found start-ups in the high tech space. Also, one can’t overlook the fact that a lot of VCs are successful technologists, who founded successful companies and choose to support the next generation of hightech entrepreneurs. Again a lot more men. (The article doesn’t say there aren’t any women, just not many.)
In my experience, there are a lot of women owned businesses, but women tend to start “lifestyle” businesses. A fact that I’m learning as I go to more and more “women networking” events. At some of these events, 90% of the women own businesses that cater to women and family, i.e., yoga/fitness studios, jewelry, makeup, clothing, kitchen/cookware, etc., or they are service providers like myself, legal, insurance, accounting, and life coaches. (I’ve never seen so many life coaches!) There are a lot of smart, hardworking women. They just don’t tend to start high tech companies.
To relate it to the intellectual property legal field, one could ask why there are so many more male patent attorneys than women. Same arguments as above apply. More men engineers, more men patent attorneys. I will say that from my observation women patent attorneys tend to have bioscience backgrounds.
These are just my observations from 10+ years of working in and around high tech companies. I have no real data to prove any of this. I encourage you to read the article for yourselves, and try to answer the question yourself.