5 MIN READ, 20 OCT, 2023
5 MIN READ, 20 OCT, 2023
As a continuation of our Women in Tech discussion at EMERGE Istanbul, our latest EMERGE Live was devoted to the myths around women in business and venture capital and startups. Ekaterina Smirnova, Head of Awards, Startup Program Aurora Tech Award (InDrive) not only shed light on prevalent gender biases in the tech industry but also shared inspirational stories of women who have shattered these stereotypes to thrive in tech careers.
Head of Awards, Startup Program
Aurora Tech Award (InDrive)
First, we asked Ekaterina to elaborate on the award project she leads, which aims to inspire women from the EMERGE community to participate. The Aurora Tech Award, a project by InDrive, seeks to eliminate barriers in tech entrepreneurship and empower women to elevate their startups into unicorns. Application process is open right now and all women founders can apply to participate. Besides the exposure to investors and VC feedback for all participants, there are a $60,000 prize fund and access mentorship opportunities offered to the top 20 finalists. Remarkably, the project has already received 180 applications from women founders worldwide. The application window remains open until the end of November.

Apply now

The ultimate aim of the Aurora Tech Award is to foster successful startups and create female success stories that can serve as new role models for young girls. Recognizing the discrimination and skepticism that women in tech often encounter due to their gender, it is imperative that we debunk the myths surrounding female founders, applaud female entrepreneurs, and champion gender equality.

Now, let's delve into some of the gender biases in the tech industry that we believe will be overcome in the near future:

Gender bias in tech industry

Work-life balance
Women are often socially stigmatized for not having a full focus on career success as they need to maintain both their careers and families. It’s important to accept that female entrepreneurs are just as capable and productive as their male counterparts and that any suggestion that they are less driven to reach success is a form of discrimination.

Women founders and investments
  1. Nowadays only 2-3% of venture capital goes to women-founded startups. Ekaterina pointed out the presence of unconscious bias, where investors may favor male entrepreneurs due to perceived experience or expertise. However, research from the Boston Consulting Group in 2018 reveals that women-founded and co-founded startups are more profitable in the long run. These stereotypes can be overcome through equal representation and education.
  2. Also there is the issue of gender bias in venture capital investing and the industry's low percentage of women founders and employees, with only 11% of women employed in venture funds. Great news that California has passed a law mandating venture firms to release diversity information is viewed as a promising step towards changing the industry and shifting attitudes.

Underrepresentation in certain industries
Industries such as fashion, female health, maternity, parenting, and baby care are often perceived as predominantly women-founded. However, many women-led startups thrive in various fields. For instance, Ekaterina highlighted a startup specializing in industrial equipment for factories that participated last year's
Aurora Tech Award. And even within women's health startups, notable examples like the US-based Evvy, which has secured $14 million in funding to advance its vaginal healthcare platform, show that women are making waves in traditionally male-dominated domains.

We all agree that It’s not right to divide industries into female and male as well as don’t take women seriously in the fields dominated by men.

Lack of exposure
There are many women who have made breakthroughs in science and other fields but are not well-known because of societal biases and gender stereotypes. Ekaterina highlighted examples of famous women like Margaret Hamilton and Noel Claudia Goldine who have made groundbreaking contributions to science and technology and are now recognized for their work. These examples mean that It’s crucial to challenge the stereotypes and encourage more women to pursue their passions and interests in science and technology.

It's worth mentioning that the EMERGE conference is comprised entirely of women. For six years, we have proudly supported all women in tech, enabling them to pursue their passions and build careers in their desired fields.

Overall Ekaterina can see some positive changes in tech community over time, with more men and women supporting the Aurora Tech Award efforts to recognize female entrepreneurs and advocating for gender equality.
If you're eager to explore further insights and inspirational stories, be sure to watch the full episode by clicking the button below:

Watch the full episode