Women tech entrepreneurs 'ask the hard questions'
“YOU HAVE to be prepared to get uncomfortable because women are uncomfortable to work with,” tech entrepreneur Cindy Gallop told a mostly male audience at Dublin Web Summit yesterday.
Founder of MakeLoveNotPorn.com, a website that offers, “real world” sex, not the “porn world” and profit shares with those who upload content, Ms Gallop said more female technology entrepreneurs would make technology better.
“Women ask the hard questions, women challenge the status quo, because we are never it.”
“There is a kind of social dynamic that girls aren’t good at math, so not enough women feed into computer science and then you don’t get female programmers and technologists,” Ms Gallop said. An industry dominated by men and led by men perpetuated its own cycle, she said, “so you’ve got guys talking to guys about other guys”.
“Men very quickly get used to pattern matching, so VCs fund in their own image – if you are a young, white, male geek Harvard/Stanford drop-out, they’ll give you loads of money in a way that women don’t get it,” she said.
While 90,000 users have already signed up for the beta version of her product, Gallop said: “I represent the double whammy of unfundability – I’m female and I’m older.”
Acknowledging the Web Summit had increased female participation since last year, Gallup called for greater participation by women.
“It’s ironic, because I can promise you there is a shedload of founders here that are targeting either men and women or even sectors that are predominantly female but their funding teams are all male and every single person on the tech team is male. If you want to talk to women, you have to have female sensibilities informing the user experience.”
Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of Indiegogo, a global crowd-funding platform that distributes millions of dollars each week, said the dearth of female tech entrepreneurs stemmed from a lack of encouragement in schools and from mentors.
“Growing up, I had to be pushed by my parents to pursue opportunities that I wasn’t getting encouraged to pursue in school . . . We don’t have entrepreneurship on the curriculum,” Ringelmann said.
“If you expose students to maths and science and entrepreneurship, you actually might catch some young girls early who might be thinking that way. We need to get them practising that. They need to learn it’s okay to fail, to fail fast – those are the building blocks for entrepreneurship.”
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave said numbers of female attendees were “triple” those of last year.