McKinsey’s latest research found that companies with women in executive positions outperform industry competitors by 21%. If this research is accurate — this is McKinsey we’re talking about — then why did female founders receive just 2.2% of total venture capitalist funding last year? This disparity may help explain the recent explosive growth of coaching programs for female entrepreneurs.
While women now make up 40% of new entrepreneurs in the US, female mentorship programs are surfacing to give women the resources they need to succeed. “Women need mentors because we need support to stand in our power,” said Carin Rockind, a happiness and life purpose expert. “Mentors remind us of who we are and empower us to feel confident in our path.”
Beyond mentorship, these programs provide women with a variety of assets to give them a leg up in the startup world. “There are several unique elements including…specific female-centric curriculum and a semi-customized program based on each founder’s strengths and opportunities,” said Allison Pettine, founding partner of Ad Astra Ventures, an accelerator seeking to attract female-led companies.
But leadership qualities and business savvy don’t seem to be what female founders lack—the heart of the challenges female entrepreneurs face seems to lie around raising capital. “While the numbers are growing, there are still too few female investors and startup entrepreneurs, which can make it more challenging to raise capital,” said Megan Smyth, CEO and co-founder of FitReserve.
Since a study by First Round Capital discovered companies with a female founder performed 63% better than all-male founding teams, the female funding challenge may be tied to unconscious biases harbored by investors. With 89% of venture capitalists being male and men dominating 96% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, this is a plausible theory.
While women entrepreneurs fight the uphill battle against the gender gap — as if building a successful startup wasn’t hard enough — female-focused coaching programs continue emerging to aid in the struggle. Although statistics appear bleak, female entrepreneurs have made progress over the past 20 years, and female startup coaching programs may be to thank.