Fostering More Female Tech Entrepreneurs [VIDEO]

by Ellen Lee on August 22, 2011
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When it comes to women working in Silicon Valley technology businesses — particularly women at the helm — the numbers remain painfully small.

Less than 5 percent of tech startups are founded by female entrepreneurs, estimates Shaherose Charania, co-founder and CEO of Women 2.0, an organization that helps foster female tech entrepreneurs.

We can bicker all we want about the reasons more women aren’t starting tech companies. The good news is there is an increasing amount of attention and resources available for would-be female tech entrepreneurs.

Women 2.0 offers opportunities for women who want to take the leap into starting a tech company. It organizes panels and networking events to help connect female entrepreneurs. Last fall, it also hosted an American Idol-style competition that let early stage startups compete and pitch their businesses before a panel of influential Silicon Valley investors and executives, with the winner receiving a startup package that included legal, marketing, and other business services.

It also offers an incubator program, Founder Labs, an intense five-week training ground for entrepreneurs. The selected participants — both male and female — learn about raising capital and other startup lessons, present their business plan before advisers, and build their startup so they can seek funding and attract customers.

Women 2.0 isn’t the only group focused on increasing the number of female tech entrepreneurs. Girls in Tech holds regular networking events around the globe to connect women in the technology field. Change the Ratio has also been talking up female tech leaders.

Last fall, Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan, and former U.K. first lady Sarah Brown also teamed up with i/o Ventures, a San Francisco early-stage tech incubator, to offer a $25,000 prize to the “next female tech trailblazing entrepreneur.” It was ultimately awarded to Charlene Kuperstein, co-founder of AppRats, which distributes videos to social networks.

And those needing inspiration can turn to TEDWomen, a conference held last December. One of the speakers included Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, whose speech calling on more women to “keep their foot on the gas pedal” has been widely circulated online. Check it out below.

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