Even in 2021, women face discrimination in the workplace — whether it's running their own businesses or climbing the corporate ladder.
The five female finalists of the Female-Founded Business category for the InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave were asked to share their challenges overcame as female founders. Here's what they had to say. Click here to register for the livestream.
Carolyn Rodz, founder of Hello Alice, says raising capital was her biggest challenge.
"We overcame it through insane networking and persistence," she continues. "Each round got easier as we proved that we knew how to grow this business and build a fiercely loyal owner community.
Katharine Forth, co-founder of Zibrio, agrees that raising early funding was her biggest challenge.
"To overcome it, I was very creative with the limited funds to generate the progress we created until we reached a threshold that was more comfortable for investors," she explains.
Being the only woman in the room
"This is a hurdle in and of itself, but it brings lots of other little behavioral hurdles too," says Kim Raath, CEO and co-founder of Topl. "Because men and women are socialized so differently, women often have to adapt to or accommodate for male-pattern behaviors."
Raath continues, saying how men tend to up-sell what they are doing, while women undersell. Additionally, she says, men are more likely to make statements while women suggest their ideas.
"It takes a lot of courage to fight for yourself and your ideas in a room full of men," Raath says. "You can't expect others to do it for you. Even further, those of us that are in the room have a duty to speak up, not just for our own sake, but for other voices that are still excluded. Being a woman in the tech space means learning how to accommodate, navigate, and hold your ground."
Being treated equally
For Samantha Snabes, co-founder of re:3D, her biggest challenge was being treated the same as her male co-founder.
"I've learned that I need to be more confident and to be proud of the differences in my leadership or communication style," she explains.
Being mistaken for the secretary
Shoshi Kaganovsky, founder of RingOn, says electronics is a very male dominated arena.
"Every time I approach a man — whether to interview him for a job or to partner up on another level — they think I'm the CEO's secretary," she says.
"When male investors talk to me they often times think I don't understand what I'm doing or that they need to dumb it down for me," continues Kaganovsky, who speaks five languages and has six degrees. "Second conversations are completely different usually."